Davis, Lee, Gainey and Wheatley pen letter of support for COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity

HARRISBURG, April 28 – State Reps. Austin Davis, Ed Gainey, Summer Lee and Jake Wheatley, all D-Allegheny, on Tuesday penned a letter of support to Gov. Tom Wolf praising his administration’s enactment of the COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity, which was designed to help identify how the pandemic is affecting the state’s minority and vulnerable populations.

A copy of the joint letter sent to the governor on Tuesday can be found here.

“The COVID-19 pandemic – even in its earliest days – quickly shed light on many longstanding issues of inequality faced by minority communities,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, these are key issues these minority populations have dealt with for many years, COVID-19 just illuminated it for the rest of the state to see. So, while I’m hopeful and grateful for the institution of this task force, it’s my sincerest hope that this produces real results, saves lives and leads to longstanding change for Pennsylvania’s minority communities.”

Lee added: “The coronavirus has brought to the surface all of the structural inequalities that marginalized communities in our state are dealing with – including those in our healthcare system. While I appreciate this effort, I would also hope that this task force is a starting point for us as a society to acknowledge and address the disparities in our healthcare system not just as it applies to COVID-19, but on a daily basis.”

Veteran Allegheny County Democrats Gainey and Wheatley offered similar remarks.

“I want to thank the governor for forming this task force to look at health disparities in our communities,” Gainey said. “Even before the coronavirus hit, we know the struggles that many in our neighborhoods face. Like my colleagues, I hope that this task force goes beyond addressing just the coronavirus and takes a look at some of the systemic issues our community faces.”

“I am very thankful and appreciative of Governor Wolf’s commitment to ensuring every person has a voice in our state, especially our communities of color,” Wheatley said. “My colleagues and I support your efforts to address structural and systemic barriers that exist, with the ultimate goal of creating a transparent, accountable and equitable process for how we allocate our state resources, now and beyond this current pandemic situation.”

The Health Disparity Task Force, which will be led by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, will prepare recommendations for the governor to address the short- and long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state’s minority and vulnerable communities.