African American Organizations Request Decisive Government Action Amidst COVID-19 Crisis
Communications Director, NAATPN
National Press Secretary, NAACP
Jameta Barlow, PhD, MPH
Communications Lead, CBH
ATLANTA – As race-specific data for COVID-19 cases are published, African American civic and public health leaders are organizing to outline a number of urgent requests to the federal government and influential corporations. As has been widely reported in recent news, it is impossible to ignore the link between the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans and the longstanding and continuing economic and health disparities in the U.S. In response, NAATPN, Inc., in collaboration with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Council on Black Health, have drafted a letter detailing immediate actions that need to occur as well as long-term solutions to health justice issues that must be addressed in order to eliminate health disparities.
According to Delmonte Jefferson, executive director for NAATPN, Inc. and convener of the group, the pandemic has exposed the country's major health inequities in the U.S.
"The root cause of the COVID-19 disparities on African American populations is embedded in our country's unjust history that devalues African American health and well-being." He says that it is imperative that the country devises short- and long-term plans to achieve true heath equity.
Shiriki Kumanyika, a research professor at Drexel University and founder of the Council on Black Health, notes: "This would be an unparalleled opportunity for federal, state, and local governments to show leadership — to implement permanent solutions that ensure the health and well-being of all residents — giving particular priority to those disproportionately experiencing pervasive, cumulative forms of social and economic disadvantage and health risks."
As noted by Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, "Increasingly, the data on COVID-19 underscore why our organizations exist and are joining forces at this time: Now more than ever, Black people are paying the price for our short- and long-term policy failures through compromised health and an early demise. Enough is enough."
The letter, now signed by more than 25 African American-led organizations, requests that government agencies, corporations and philanthropic organizations develop a coordinated strategy to provide COVID-19 relief for the most affected communities.
Specifically, the letter's short-term requests include:
- Mobile COVID-19 testing for underserved communities
- COBRA coverage for workers losing health insurance due to COVID-19 furloughs
- Data on race/ethnicity and location for COVID-19 incidences, hospitalizations and deaths
- A credible strategy to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in African American communities
Long-term requests include:
- Investment in healthcare workers and systems that are culturally sensitive
- Increased federal minimum wage and the poverty threshold
- Investment in pre-k and elementary education to include before and after-school care as well as healthy meals
Most organizations signed on to the letter operate specific programs and policy advocacy efforts that address economic and health disparities among African American populations. To view the letter, visit www.naatpn.org/covidcollective or click here to download or sign the letter.
About NAATPN, Inc.
NAATPN, Inc. is a 20-year-old organization that facilitates public health programs and services that benefit communities and people of African descent. NAATPN is committed to addressing the social and economic injustices that have marginalized African American communities and led to deep health disparities. NAATPN is fortified by a network of community organizations, grassroots organizers, faith leaders, legislators, clinical service providers, researchers and media professionals who use their expertise to inform and amplify its policy work and educational campaigns.
About the NAACP
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.
About the Council on Black Health (CBH)
The Council on Black Health (CBH) seeks to have a significant impact on health in Black communities through collaboration, discovery, and innovation. Formerly known as the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network (AACORN), the Council builds on AACORN's 15-year legacy of developing and distributing information about ways to improve the health status of Black Americans.