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Three local professors appointed to Louisiana’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force



MONROE, La. – Gov. John Bel Edwards rallying his troops in the war against COVID-19 with a new initiative.

“Sometimes when I think about it, it seems surreal,” said Dr. Meg Brown. “You wake up and say, ‘Am I really living through this particular experience?’”

On Tuesday, Edwards announced two co-chairs and appointed members to the Louisiana COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and several subcommittees. The group will look at how health inequities are affecting communities that are most impacted by the coronavirus.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, African Americans make up more than 55% of deaths caused by the coronavirus in the state.

A disturbing trend according the governor that he said needs to be addressed.

“When I found out that I had been appointed, my first response was, ‘I hear you God, I hear you,’” said Dr. Lisa VanHoose. “Because over the last week I have been doing the same thing that everyone else has is thinking, ‘how can I do more?’”

Dr. Lisa VanHoose is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Physical Therapy Program at the University of Louisiana. She was one of three local leaders appointed to join the newly formed task force.

Their immediate assignment includes the following:

“To make sure they have the resources they need for testing, to make sure they have resources for nutrition for physical activity, all of things that the data are now showing that can lessen your risk or decrease the severity of the illnesses that you might have from COVID-19,” said Dr. VanHoose.

Grambling State University personnel Dr. Meg Brown, School of Nursing Associate Dean and Professor, and Dr. Jacqueline Harris, Associate Professor Chemistry, will provide expertise from the field of nursing and data analytics.

They believe the diverse group in place will lead the state in a positive direction.

“To be given an opportunity to use my background and make sure an immediate impact is very humbling,” said Dr. Harris.

“The committee members are so diverse and bring so much experience and knowledge so it’s going to be great to work with them,” said Dr. Brown.

The task force’s work will begin immediately, and its actions and research will result in improved health outcomes and equity in Louisiana. A statewide Health Equity Dashboard will be created to monitor the progress of the task force.