National coalition aims to fight COVID-19 among Black community

Morehouse School of Medicine, along with other Historically Black medical schools, and Black healthcare workers have created a coalition to fight COVID-19.

The initiative, called the Black Coalition Against COVID, aims to inform and provide access to the Black communities across the country. "We were concerned about the messaging that was going out to the Black community," said Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President of Morehouse School of Medicine. 

Dr. Rice is one of the leading voices of the coalition.

"We want to make sure the manner in which information is provided to them is linguistically and culturally appropriate," Dr. Rice said. "Whatever language they're in, whatever level of education they have whatever their contextual history is of what they think of research...We are not demeaning or diluting what their experience has been."

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The other big part of the coalition's mission is making sure there is access to adequate testing and access to the opportunity to participate in voluntary clinical trials. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black and Hispanic populations are about four times more likely to be hospitalized and almost three times more likely to die from the virus compared to white, non-Hispanic persons. 

Dr. Rice said it's clear the virus is affecting some populations disproportionately, but it's about race. 

"This really had a limited amount to do with race as a risk factor. That it was more so based on the fact that those persons in black and brown communities are essential workers. As essential workers, we know are at greater risk because you cannot socially distance. They did not have the access to regular testing particularly at the beginning and were clearly not getting the same kind of care delivery," She said. 

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As the US gets closer to rolling out the vaccine, Dr. Rice said she hopes the members of the coalition will be able to calm any fears surrounding it. 

She hopes that members of the community will know there are healthcare workers who are ready to serve. 

"We will continue to insist that our voices are heard and that you can put your trust in us," Dr. Rice said. 

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