DETROIT, Apr.15, 2020 — Members of the Detroit Caucus serving in the Michigan Legislature learned that Julena Gay, sister of their fellow legislator and Detroit Caucus Chair, state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), passed away due to complications caused by COVID-19.

“It’s with heavy hearts that we offer our sincerest condolences to our Caucus Chair, Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo and the entire family of Julena Gay, including her mother, Willie Ruth Thomas; her children, Janita, Julian and Jaynell Gay, and Jasyn Young,” said state Rep. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods), on behalf of the Detroit Caucus. “In the face of this unspeakable crisis, Rep. Gay-Dagnogo has set an incredible example of leadership and strength for our entire community weathering these vast impacts to our lives. She’s done all of this while serving as a pillar in her own family throughout the past several weeks that her sister was hospitalized prior to her passing. We will stand beside Rep. Gay-Dagnogo as she works through the loss of her dear sister and as we continue to fight to put an end to the spread of COVID-19 once and for all.”

“It saddened me to learn of the passing of my constituent and colleague’s sister, Julena Gay,” said state Rep. LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit). “Ms. Gay was a devoted activist within the 7th House District who showed a deep love for the community. This is a tragic loss for our District and the entire city of Detroit. My deepest and sincere condolences go out to her family and loved ones.”

Michigan’s prevalence of COVID-19 cases are concentrated in the southeast region of the state, with Detroit serving as one of the hardest hit communities by this pandemic. On Sunday, March 29, 2020, the Detroit Caucus tragically lost a member of their own with the passing of state Rep. Isaac Robinson due to suspected COVID-19 complications.

“After battling with this virus myself, I know firsthand the toll it can take not only on those of us who have tested positive, but our family, friends and loved ones as well. I join my colleagues in sending our sincerest thoughts and prayers to Rep. Gay-Dagnogo and her family during these incredibly difficult times,” said state Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit).

On Tuesday, the City of Detroit reported more than 7,000 confirmed cases. While COVID-19 does not target specific groups, it has illuminated the already existing inequalities present overall in society as well as in the health care system that disproportionately impact the access, level and quality of care patients of color experience.

“We have lost far too many of our Detroit community members to this insidious pandemic, including a fellow legislator and now Rep. Gay-Dagnogo’s sister,” said state Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit). “Through these unprecedented circumstances, we stand by our Detroit Caucus Chair to offer our support and utmost condolences.”

Members of the bicameral Detroit Caucus jointly issue the above release, including state Reps. Tyrone Carter, LaTanya Garrett, Tenisha Yancey, Joe Tate, Wendell Byrd and Karen Whitsett, and state Sens. Betty Jean Alexander, Stephanie Chang, Sylvia Santana, Marshall Bullock and Adam Hollier.