Creating a task force examining the seemingly disproportionate and tragic affect the coronavirus is wielding on the African American  community is a humane and judicious decision by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

At one point, African Americans accounted for more than 70 percent of deaths caused by the virus in Louisiana. Although decreased, the number still hovers around 60 percent,  disturbing in a state where approximately 33 percent of the population is black.

National numbers, particularly in the South, are equally distressing.

Undeniably, there is ample cause for concern but pinpointing the reason for such a disparity has proven to be as evasive as finding a cure for the novel virus.

Theories are plentiful, some pointing to obesity. But that theory is deficient in credibility, especially in a state where fried catfish dinners and fried shrimp po’boys are staples of our diets, no matter the ethnicity.

Some target hypertension as the culprit, which is equally flawed on its premise  considering the disease is often a byproduct of the maddening pace by which many individuals and families, regardless of race, live their lives.

Culture has also been tossed out as a contributing factor, which teeters dangerously close to an injurious slippery slope.

Perhaps most alarming is the assertion many African Americans are not privy to quality, or even adequate, health care. Critics point to such factors as African Americans are often working  in lower paying jobs, especially in the gig economy or service industry, that do not offer health insurance; elevated unemployment among the black community; substandard housing; and a lack of adequate transportation.

Indeed, if this is the case, if it is proven that skin color could potentially predetermine one’s coronavirus risk, then steps to mitigate such an atrocity must be identified and implemented immediately. The reasons for such a disparity are for another discussion but correcting this wrong, if it exists, must be the highest priority for the governor’s task force.

Quality health care can never be disbursed based on one’s status, race or pay grade. To do so is simply unacceptable and contradictory to our own Catholic values.

In fairness, Edwards’ task force will employ a comprehensive evidence-based analysis exploring any and all determinants of health quality that could potentially influence racial health disparities, including such dynamics as political, economic, social, technological and legal.

If evidence confirms African Americans are being denied equal health care accessibility for any reason, redressing this travesty might be the ultimate and perhaps only positive to emerge from this heinous pandemic.