The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected the Black community. According to the COVID Tracking Project, within the United States, African Americans are dying at a rate more than 1.5 times higher than their population share. Several collegiate institutions are leading initiatives to address the alarming trend, including Morehouse School of Medicine. The HBCU recently received a $40 million grant to further its efforts, NBC News reported.
The funding—which was awarded to the Atlanta-based college by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health—will support Morehouse’s National COVID-19 Resiliency Network in fighting the pandemic in underserved communities. Research will be conducted to develop strategies that will aid in mitigating the spread in vulnerable communities through care and education.
“A lot of groups of color are suffering with African Americans at the top,” Dr. Dominic H. Mack, who serves as a professor at the Morehouse School of Medicine, told the news outlet. “A lot of this comes down to trust. We have been at the forefront in underserved communities during crises before, like Hurricane Katrina. It’s our base. So, having a trusted source to treat and educate on testing and vaccinations, etc., can help overcome some of the distrust Blacks have with medical institutions.”
Many historically Black colleges and universities are rallying around marginalized communities amid the pandemic. Howard University opened a free COVID-19 testing site to ensure individuals living in underserved areas have access to adequate testing and resources. “We want to screen our community neighbors in the areas where there are higher incidents of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes because those pre-existing conditions are linked to the higher incidents of coronavirus that we’ve seen in African American communities,” said Dr. Hugh E. Mighty, who serves as Howard University’s vice president of clinical affairs.