GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The state has created a workgroup to address the rising number of opioid overdose deaths in communities of color.

The Michigan Opioids Task Force has formed the 15-member Racial Equity Workgroup to find solutions to the growing disparities in overdose deaths among Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Black Michiganders died of an overdose at a 2.2 times greater rate than white Michiganders between September 2021 and August 2022.

Ashley Daniels, the lead organizer for Michigan Liberation’s Care, Not Criminalization Team, said the members of the workgroup have professional experience with public health, drug policies, harm reduction and mental health. The workgroup has three goals: analyze data and work with racial justice advocates, develop a strategic action plan and support and challenge racially inequitable activities.

In August 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created the Michigan Opioids Task Force to bring state government departments together to address the opioid crisis.