African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, crisis mostly due to underlying health conditions and existing racial inequities within the healthcare system. This has left older African Americans over the ages of 50 as some of the most vulnerable to the virus with many lacking proper access to technology to keep up with the news cycle and are more likely to have less access to support resources to protect themselves against the pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic, AARP has been closely monitoring news on the virus and delivering useful information and resources to older Americans, specifically those from marginalized communities. “The data is clear and has been clear for decades: African Americans, Latinos, and other minority groups live sicker and die younger,” says Stephen Thomas, a professor of health policy and management and director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland School of Public Health to AARP. “We cannot close our eyes or put up blinders to the disproportionate impact of this disease on racial and ethnic minority communities.”
To combat the outbreak among the community, AARP has collaborated with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) to host a virtual information session and first African American press briefing to provide information and additional resources for African Americans over the age of 50 regarding COVID-19. The topics ranged from ways to prevent transmission to consoling loved ones who have lost someone to the virus.
Speakers at the virtual event included Dr. Ben Chavis, president and CEO of the NNPA, Shani Hosten, AARP Multicultural Leadership AA/B Strategy Lead, Reginald Nance, AARP New York, Associate State Director Multicultural Outreach, Dr. James Hildreth, President of Meharry Medical College, Rita Choula, AARP Public Policy Institute Director of Caregiving, and Cristina Martin Firvida, AARP, VP Financial Security & Consumer Affairs.