Pittsburgh city council members call for creation of COVID-19 ‘racial equity task force’

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto led a discussion Tuesday about the response to COVID-19.

During that discussion, two Pittsburgh City Council members introduced legislation calling for the creation of a coronavirus racial equity task force.

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They talked about equity issues in critical communities, like the homeless, Peduto’s deputy chief of staff said the pandemic has exposed serious flaws.

“Equity is not a luxury, it's a priority. And I think it has to happen. I think COVID, as we talked about before, has really exposed fault lines and crack lines in our community,” said Majestic Lane.

Councilmembers Rick Burgess and Dan Lavelle proposed the creation of a racial equity task force comprised of local government and public health officials, along with representatives from universities.

Burgess called for a three-pronged approach: the creation of a centralized database to interpret and disseminate information, more resources for minority communities facing financial and economic hardships, and greater testing capacity.

“We really believe they have not tested in the African American community in any significant rate. All the evidence that it has not been as severe in the African American community is antidotal because across the country we know that's not true,” Burgess said.

Burgess said he’s been talking with representatives from the health sector and the government for several weeks now, and this legislation makes the creation of a task force official.