Black religious leaders launch anti-coronavirus initiative

The United Way of New York City and Black clergy leaders are joining forces to combat coronavirus

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The United Way of New York City and Black clergy leaders are joining together to create a new initiative designed to help combat the impact of coronavirus on the Black community.

According to The Associated Press, the initiative – which will launch Monday – consists of increased testing, contact tracing, and treatment management. The connection of influential church leaders will help in circulating resources to the Black community and better equip them to prevent and treat the virus.

Read More: US surpasses 250,000 coronavirus deaths as pandemic surges

The testing will start in January in five cities: New York, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington and Newark, New Jersey.

Testing company Quest Diagnosis will provide funding support along with Resolve to Save Lives, a nonprofit public health initiative led by Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sheena Wright, CEO of the United Way of New York City, said the organization’s intention is to advance the new partnership in order to address the disparities the pandemic has had on the Black community. She also highlighted the “lack of investment in health institutions.”

“We are focused on really closing the opportunity gap for communities of color around the city, and we’ve certainly seen in COVID-19 the profound disparities and impact on the Black community,” Wright told The Associated Press.

Rev. Calvin Butts, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, said the participating churches were stepping up to serve their community as the “first line of defense.” Members of the clergy who are stepping in to help advance these efforts include civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and a Georgia Democratic Senate candidate.

“I’m delighted to say we are strongly together across denominational lines and, even when there may be political differences, we still stand shoulder to shoulder in meeting this crisis,” Butts said.

CNN reported that nearly a quarter of coronavirus cases reported were in November alone with at least 83,277 patients hospitalized on Saturday.

Read More: United Airlines offers free rapid virus tests for select international flights

Approximately 12 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed as of Saturday and 256,000 Americans died to date. An August study from the CDC found that Black Americans had a hospitalization rate 4.7 times higher and a death rate 2.1 higher than others.

The study cited that race and ethnicity were “risk markers” for underlying conditions that impact health. Socioeconomic status, access to proper healthcare, and an increased exposure to the coronavirus due occupation were also noted as risk markers.

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