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 to download or sign the letter.­

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