COVID-19 testing at Flint church will continue Friday as governor looks to address racial disparities

Testing is happening at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Flint
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church conducted testing two weekends in June and again for two days...
Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church conducted testing two weekends in June and again for two days in July.(ABC12 News)
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 11:40 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - During the pandemic a Flint church is providing more than spiritual guidance as Governor Whitmer looks to address racial disparities that have become apparent during COVID-19.

“It’s definitely needed and I’m glad to see it’s coming from the top down,” said Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Sr. Pastor Dr. Daniel Moore.

He applauded the new executive directive from Governor Whitmer that requires health care professionals to have implicit bias training in order to obtain or renew their licenses.

Moore says during two weekends in June about 1,200 people were tested for coronavirus at the church in north Flint. Shiloh MBC opened as a testing site again on Thursday with the help of the State of Michigan, Michigan Air National Guard, Genesee Health System, Genesee Community Health, State Rep. Cynthia Neeley and the City of Flint.

“With the uptick right now in Michigan we decided right after the 4th when family and friends are gathering -- this is a good time to re-take your COVID-19 test just to make sure everything is safe and that we keep those numbers down,” Neeley said.

Moore said Shiloh MBC had already seen 130 people come through for testing by about 5 p.m. Thursday.

“When the numbers were really high right here, the [48]505 area code was the hardest hit in the city of Flint,” Moore said.

The implicit bias training was recommended by the Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.

RELATED: Whitmer requires implicit bias training for health care providers in Michigan

“In my medical training that topic never came up,” said Michigan State Medical Society President Dr. Bobby Mukkamala.

In April, ABC12 previously reported according to the Genesee County Health Department that African-Americans made up 43-percent of the county’s 1,364 positive COVID-19. Statewide, while Black people comprise 14% of Michigan’s population, Whitmer pointed out that 40-percent of the state’s confirmed coronavirus deaths are Black people. COVID-19 is four times more prevalent in Michigan’s Black population than it is among Whites.

“That’s something that should be acknowledged, and then looking at the root causes of why that disparity exists,” Dr. Mukkamala said.

While Mukkamala agrees with the need for training, he isn’t sure if it should be a requirement, yet.

“The only question I have is, does it need to be mandatory right up front? I think it’s probably more prudent to get it right, see what the content is like, see how useful it is, get feedback on that content, and once we develop a product that’s actually useful, then actually, perhaps, mandate it, Mukkamala said.

Officials said it could take six months to a year to develop the rules for the training.

Meanwhile, testing continues at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. You do not need to register. It is free and open to the public.

“The COVID-19 test is only a point in time, so we want to encourage people to get re-tested if they feel they need to,” said Genesee Health System Director of Outreach Elizabeth Burtch.

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