By JoVonne Walker

The Center for Closing  the Health Gap

Renee Mahaffey Harris. Photo provided

Renee Mahaffey Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Closing the Health Gap, has been named to the Minority Health Strike Force established by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. The Strike Force is a working group of leaders and experts across the state, who will collectively examine why African American Ohioans are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

Mahaffey Harris joins other Cincinnati leaders on the task force, including Cincinnati Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, Interact for Health CEO Dr. O’dell M. Owens, and Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore.

DeWine announced that, for the 11,499 cases in which the Ohio Department of Health knows the race of coronavirus cases, 24.1 percent of patients are African American, 54.6 percent are White, and 21.2 are other or multi-race. African Americans make up about 13 percent of the Ohio population. 

Mahaffey Harris has been a leading voice for Cincinnati’s African American community and other underserved and marginalized populations. Over the past several weeks, she has led the creation of a new website resource for COVID-19 news and updates for the Black community at She has launched a series of Virtual Town Halls every Saturday afternoon featuring leading African American leaders and health experts. And she has served as an expert resource for Cincinnati’s Radio One in its information campaign about the emergency.

“This crisis is changing so quickly, and the impact has been overwhelming. We serve thousands of people in underserved and marginalized neighborhoods across Cincinnati, and it can be difficult to really understand how the crisis is affecting people and what we need to do,” said Mahaffey Harris. “These residents are bearing a disproportionate share of the burden related to this unprecedented crisis, and there are monumental issues we’re all wrestling with – financial, employment, childcare, mental health, and so much more.’’

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