Dr. Muñoz, Candidate for Governor of Rhode Island, shares his response to Governor McKee’s proposed dismantling of Rhode Island’s Equity Council. 

The Rhode Island Equity Council was informed on May 19th at 3:30pm that it would be “placed on hiatus”, following the council’s final meeting on May 26th. It was proposed that another body “may” be formed in its place, but no timeline was provided, as to when that new body might be formed. In addition, no information was provided as to what the membership of a new body might reflect, as it relates to diversity and the extent of community involvement. Staff representing the McKee administration indicated that there is an opportunity to create a new “version” that better “aligns with the administration’s priorities”. 

But what are Governor McKee’s priorities, as it relates to equity? This question concerns communities, community leaders, and organizations that have been disenfranchised by the current and previous administrations. The reactive nature of this administration’s responses to equity issues raises further concerns, as to whether any proactive measures will be taken to build upon the foundational work of the current Equity Council. 

On today’s call, community leaders and some elected officials voiced concerns that this decision was reached in isolation, and at a time when we continue to see significant vaccination disparities, and at a time when additional COVID-19 resources are available. But how will those resources be allocated when community voices and perspectives are no longer at the table? 

Canceling Rhode Island’s Equity Council meetings removes community voices from the most important table, at a pivotal time in this pandemic. It will further reduce data visibility (transparency), and community inclusion in the design of programs and initiatives that might reduce the growing health, housing, and income disparities resulting from COVID-19. 

We will not allow this administration, or any other, to return to the normalcy of indifference, which has left many communities behind. I’m committed to moving collectively with community members, leaders, and organizations to continue the necessary work. My hope is that this current administration chooses to do the same. 

Luis Daniel Muñoz, MD

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The COVID-19 Equity Council is an advisory council that was created to ensure that State’s emergency response and recovery strategies address the specific needs of the communities most impacted by the pandemic. These communities include communities of color, high density areas and low-income neighborhoods.

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