The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced a plan to invest $2.25 billion over two years to address Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related health disparities and advance health equity among populations that are at high-risk and underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas. This funding represents CDC’s largest investment to date to support communities affected by COVID-19-related health disparities.
“Everyone in America should have equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “This investment will be monumental in anchoring equity at the center of our nation’s COVID-19 response—and is a key step forward in bringing resources and focus to health inequities that have for far too long persisted in our country.”
Data show that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected some populations and placed them at higher risk, including those who are medically underserved, racial and ethnic minority groups, and people living in rural communities. These groups may experience higher risk of exposure, infection, hospitalization, and mortality. In addition, evidence shows that racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities have disproportionate rates of chronic diseases that can increase the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 and may also encounter barriers to testing, treatment, or vaccination.
To stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and move toward greater health equity, CDC continues to work with populations at higher risk, underserved and disproportionately affected to ensure resources are available to maintain and manage physical and mental health, including easy access to information, affordable testing, and medical and mental health care. For more information and community resources visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/index.html
This initiative is funded through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, (P.L. 116-260) and is expected to award funding to up to 108 state, local, territorial, and freely associated state health departments, or their bona fide agents. CDC will be accepting applications for this initiative through April 30, 2021.
Gina S. Brown, dean for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences at Howard University (left) and Eileen Sullivan-Marx, dean of NYU Meyers (right)
Howard University’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences and New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing have formed an educational and research partnership to work together to have a greater impact on improving health and health equity in urban areas and global communities.
“We are ecstatic to be in partnership with such a prestigious educational institution as NYU Meyers at such a critical time within our nation’s health care cataclysm,” said Gina S. Brown, PhD, MSA, RN, FAAN, dean for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences at Howard University. “The potential collaborations are endless.”
The new partnership will enable nursing researchers at Howard and NYU to collaborate on existing research projects and jointly apply for grant funding for new projects. The schools are in the process of applying for funding to develop a mentoring and education program to encourage African-American nurses to obtain specialty nursing certifications. In addition, faculty will be invited to attend research seminars and professional development opportunities at both schools.
“We are thrilled to build new ties to Howard University, one of the country’s top HBCUs, and to work closely with its expert nursing faculty,” said Eileen Sullivan-Marx, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean and Erline Perkins McGriff professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. “By formally establishing this partnership, we can develop unique opportunities for cross-school collaborations that address health inequities and increase our impact on improving care for the patients and communities we serve.”
In addition to fostering faculty and research collaborations, nursing students at Howard and NYU Meyers will have the opportunity to attend new and established programming through educational exchanges. For instance, Howard nursing students will be encouraged to participate in NYU Meyers’ 10-week summer research program, designed to engage undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds in mentored research. The NIH-funded program aims to develop the next generation of cardiovascular disease researchers, and NYU and Howard hope that participation will encourage more nursing students of color to pursue research doctorates in nursing or related fields.
The Howard-NYU partnership was catalyzed by Brown and NYU Meyers’ Audrey Lyndon, PhD, FAAN, RNC, professor and assistant dean for clinical research. While on faculty at the University of California, San Francisco, Lyndon worked closely with Brown on educational exchanges; they look forward to building upon this collaboration to change the future of nursing.
About NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing (@NYUNursing) NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing is a global leader in nursing and health. Founded in 1932, the College offers B.S., M.S., DNP and Ph.D. degree programs providing the educational foundation to prepare the next generation of nursing leaders and researchers. NYU Meyers has several programs that are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report and is among the top 10 nursing schools receiving NIH funding, thanks to its research mission and commitment to innovative approaches to health care worldwide.
About the Howard University College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences
The College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences is comprised of top-ranked educational programs that prepare health care professionals to be leaders and innovators in practice, education, research and service. Graduates are prepared to deliver patient-centered, interprofessional care and utilize cutting-edge technology and evidence-based practice to improve the health of all people with an emphasis on promoting health equity toward eliminating health disparities. Currently, the college offers degrees in the following accredited programs: bachelor’s degrees in clinical laboratory science, health management sciences, nursing, nutritional sciences and radiation therapy; master’s degrees in nursing, occupational therapy and physician assistant; a post-master’s certificate in nursing; a doctoral degree in physical therapy; and a master’s and doctoral degree in nutritional science in conjunction with the Howard University Graduate School. To learn more, visit cnahs.howard.edu/
April is National Minority Health Month, and this year, the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is focusing on the impacts COVID-19 is having on racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native communities and underscoring the need for these vulnerable communities to get vaccinated as more vaccines become available. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain vulnerable populations, such as non-Hispanic African Americans, individuals living in nonmetropolitan areas, and adults with lower levels of education, income or who do not have health insurance, have a higher likelihood of forgoing getting vaccinated.
This year’s theme for National Minority Health Month is #VaccineReady. The goal of this campaign is to empower vulnerable populations to get the facts about COVID-19 vaccines, share accurate vaccine information, participate in clinical trials, get vaccinated when the time comes, and proactively practice COVID-19 safety measures.
Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping people from getting COVID-19 and the CDC recommends that everyone get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. As more vaccines become available, there are steps communities can take to protect themselves until they can get vaccinated:
Wear a mask to protect yourself and others and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Stay at least six feet (about two arm lengths) from others who do not live with you.
Avoid crowds. The more people you are in contact with, the more likely you are to be exposed to COVID-19.
To learn more about National Minority Health Month and to receive updates on news and activities, sign up for OMH email updates and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force will provide recommendations for addressing health inequities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and for preventing such inequities in the future
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague the country, it has had a disproportionate impact on some of our most vulnerable communities. Shortly after COVID-19 was first identified in the United States, disparities in testing, cases, hospitalizations, and mortality began to emerge. These inequities were quickly evident by race, ethnicity, geography, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other factors.
President Biden and Vice President Harris have released a National Strategy to combat the pandemic that has equity at its core. To help ensure an equitable response to the pandemic, the President signed an executive order on January 21 creating a task force to address COVID-19 related health and social inequities. This Task Force is chaired by Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.
Today, President Biden and Vice President Harris announced the following individuals to serve as non-federal members of the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Individuals selected by the President are:
Mayra Alvarez of San Diego, CA James Hildreth of Nashville, TN Andrew Imparato of Sacramento, CA Victor Joseph of Tanana, AK Joneigh Khaldun of Lansing, MI Octavio Martinez of New Braunfels, TX Tim Putnam of Batesville, IN Vincent Toranzo of Pembroke Pines, FL Mary Turner of Plymouth, MN Homer Venters of Port Washington, NY Bobby Watts of Goodlettsville, TN Haeyoung Yoon of New York, NY
The twelve Task Force members represent a diversity of backgrounds and expertise, a range of racial and ethnic groups, and a number of important populations, including: children and youth; educators and students; health care providers, immigrants; individuals with disabilities; LGBTQ+ individuals; public health experts; rural communities; state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments; and unions.
As Chair, Dr. Nunez-Smith will also ask six additional Federal agencies to be represented on the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force as federal members. This includes the United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, and Department of Labor.
The Task Force is charged with issuing a range of recommendations to help inform the COVID-19 response and recovery. This includes recommendations on equitable allocation of COVID-19 resources and relief funds, effective outreach and communication to underserved and minority populations, and improving cultural proficiency within the Federal Government. Additional recommendations include efforts to improve data collection and use, as well as a long-term plan to address data shortfalls regarding communities of color and other underserved populations. The Task Force’s work will conclude after issuing a final report to the COVID-19 Response Coordinator describing the drivers of observed COVID-19 inequities, the potential for ongoing disparities faced by COVID-19 survivors, and actions to ensure that future pandemic responses do not ignore or exacerbate health inequities.
Mayra Alvarez, MPH
Mayra E. Alvarez, MHA is President of The Children’s Partnership, a California advocacy organization working to advance child health equity. Previously, she served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama-Biden administration, including at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Office of Minority Health, and the Office of Health Reform. She has also served as a Legislative Assistant in the US Senate and House of Representatives. A native of California, she graduated from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of California at Berkeley.
James Hildreth, PhD, MD
James Hildreth is president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College, the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health sciences center. Dr. Hildreth served previously as dean of the College of Biological Sciences at University of California, Davis and as a professor and associate dean at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Hildreth is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and an internationally acclaimed immunologist whose work has focused on several human viruses including HIV. He currently serves on the advisory council for the NIH director and as a member of the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Dr. Hildreth has led Meharry’s efforts to ensure that disadvantaged communities have access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines. He graduated from Harvard University as a Rhodes Scholar, from Oxford University with a PhD in immunology, and obtained an MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Andrew Imparato, JD
Andy Imparato is a disability rights lawyer and the Executive Director of Disability Rights California, where he has spearheaded advocacy on crisis standards of care and vaccine prioritization in the last year. Imparato joined DRC after a 26-year career in Washington, DC, where he served as the chief executive of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities and the American Association of People with Disabilities. From 2010-2013, Imparato served as Chairman Tom Harkin’s Disability Policy Director on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Imparato’s perspective is informed by his lived experience with bipolar disorder.
Victor Joseph was elected by the 42 member tribes to the position of Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) Chief/Chairman in March of 2014 and served through October of 2020. As the Chief Chairman he was the principal executive officer for the corporation and presided over all corporate meetings of the member tribes. Prior to being elected TCC’s Chief Chairman Victor was employed as TCC’s Health Director from 2007 to 2014. He worked for TCC a total of 28 years in a variety of leadership position. He has also served as Alaska Representative on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee and on the Indian Health Services Budget Formulation Committee. Joseph is a tribal member of the Native Village of Tanana. He has extensive experience building strong working relationships with tribal leaders, colleagues, staff, funding agencies and corporate beneficiaries.
Joneigh Khaldun, MD, MPH
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun is the Chief Medical Executive for the State of Michigan and the Chief Deputy Director for Health in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). She is the lead strategist for Michigan’s COVID-19 response. Prior to her role in Michigan she was the Director of the Detroit Health Department, where she established a comprehensive reproductive health network and led Detroit’s response to the Hepatitis A outbreak. Dr. Khaldun has held former roles as the Baltimore City Health Department’s Chief Medical Officer and Fellow in the Obama-Biden Administration’s Office of Health Reform in the US Department of Health and Human Services. She obtained her BS from the University of Michigan, MD from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and MPH in health policy from George Washington University. She practices emergency medicine part-time at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Octavio Martinez, MD, MBA, MPH
Octavio N. Martinez, Jr. is the Executive Director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, Martinez is a Senior Associate Vice President within the university’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement; clinical professor in the university’s School of Social Work; and professor at Dell Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry. A native Texan, Martinez has an MPH from Harvard University’s School of Public Health, an MD from Baylor College of Medicine, and an MBA and BBA in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin.
Tim Putnam, DHA, EMS
Tim Putnam is President and CEO of Margaret Mary Health, a community hospital in Batesville, Indiana and has over 30 years of healthcare experience. He received his Doctorate in Health Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina where his dissertation was focused on acute stroke care in rural hospitals. He is a past president of the Indiana Rural Health Association and the National Rural Health Association. In 2015 he was appointed by the Governor to the newly created Indiana Board of Graduate Medical Education and has chaired the Board since its inception. Dr. Putnam is also a certified Emergency Medical Technician.
Vincent C. Toranzo is an active student from Broward County, Florida. Mr. Toranzo has experience with the inner workings of municipality functions. He serves as the State Secretary of the Florida Association of Student Councils advocating for the inclusion of student voices in their community, such as assistance to foster children and the assurance of students’ safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Toranzo was awarded the U.S. President’s Award for Educational Excellence and a Citizenship Award for School and Public Service from his local U.S. congresswoman.
Mary Turner, RN
Mary Turner is an ICU nurse at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale and in her sixth year as President of the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) union—the Minnesota affiliate of National Nurses United. She previously worked at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis for 10 years. Turner has been on the National Nurses United’s Joint Nursing Commission since 2011. She serves as the Chair of the Board for Isuroon, which provides empowerment, culturally sensitive health education, and advocacy for Somali women.
Homer Venters, MD
Homer Venters is a physician and epidemiologist working at the intersection of incarceration, health and human rights. Dr. Venters is currently focused on addressing COVID-19 responses in jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities. Dr. Venters is the former Chief Medical Officer of the NYC Correctional Health Services and author of Life and Death in Rikers Island. Dr. Venters has also worked in the nonprofit sector as the Director of Programs of Physicians for Human Rights and President of Community Oriented Correctional Health Service. Dr. Venters is a Clinical Associate Professor of the New York University College of Global Public Health.
Bobby Watts, MPH, MS
G. Robert (“Bobby”) Watts is CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, which supports 300 Health Care for the Homeless FQHCs and 100 Medical Respite programs with training, research, and advocacy to end homelessness. Watts has 25 years’ experience in administration, direct service, and implementation of homeless health and shelter services. Watts served as Executive Director of Care for the Homeless in New York City for twelve years. He is a graduate of Cornell University and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health from which he holds an MPH in health administration and an MS in epidemiology.
Haeyoung Yoon, JD
Haeyoung Yoon is Senior Policy Director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Over the course of her career, Yoon has worked on low-wage and immigrant workers rights issues. Prior to National Domestic Workers Alliance, Yoon was a Distinguished Taconic Fellow at Community Change. Yoon also has extensive litigation experience and taught at the New York University School of Law and Brooklyn Law School. She recently testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship regarding Immigrants as Essential Workers during COVID-19. Yoon received her JD from CUNY School of Law, her MA from Harvard University, and her BA from Barnard College.
NEW YORK, Dec. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) is excited to announce the launch of two new major campaigns for its members under its new wellness initiative, NBNA Resilient Nurse Resource™. RETHINK, launched yesterday, was created to build awareness around the importance of vaccinations, with a focus on influenza and pneumococcal. The goal of RETHINK is to debunk common myths surrounding vaccines and to inform Black nurses and the Black community on the benefits of vaccinations. The website features an interactive ‘Test Your Flu IQ’ quiz to test participants knowledge and understanding on the flu and vaccines. There is also a flu and pneumococcal vaccination locator to assist with identifying providers in nearby serving areas. Anyone interested in learning more about vaccines can visit www.nbnaRETHINK.com.
On December 15, 2020, the NBNA will also launch its mental wellness campaign, RE:SET. This new initiative offers members FREE counseling services, education webinars, wellness podcasts and more, to aid them in maintaining their mental wellness throughout the current COVID-19 crisis. The free counseling services are only available for existing and new NBNA members, and their families.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma in the Black community surrounding mental health. This, in addition to the lack of providers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds and culturally competent providers, contributes to only one-in-three African Americans receiving mental health treatment.
To provide the best patient care, nurses must be able to reset and recharge from the daily pressures and renew their resilience and strength. Creating tools for renewal and increased resilience is especially important as nurses have a high prevalence of anxiety and depression. With this comprehensive resource, NBNA members will receive holistic tools and resources designed to give nurses the boost they need to promote mental wellness and wellbeing.
“We know how difficult this year has been for nurses everywhere, especially Black nurses who are faced with both the pandemic and the current racial uprising,” states Dr. Martha A. Dawson, NBNA President. “It is crucial that we protect our nurses’ physical and mental wellbeing during such an unprecedented time in our country. With RE:SET we are able to provide them with the tools necessary to recover from the daily stresses of exhausting working conditions and challenges. It is essentially PPE for their mental and emotional health, which will help to impact their physical health.”
RE:SET provides NBNA members and their families with easily accessible options for mental wellness – including:
RE:SET Support Line: Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, members who need in-the-moment support, are connected with licensed clinicians for no-cost, confidential guidance and resources.
Free, Confidential Counseling: The RE:SET program provides up to five free sessions with experienced and licensed clinicians. This service removes the cost, access and privacy hassles of getting professional emotional support when NBNA members face a problem or situation that is difficult to resolve.
Text Coach®: Also known as ‘text therapy’ is available to NBNA members via mobile phone or desktop computer to help with non-acute concerns. Licensed clinicians will help nurses and their families boost emotional fitness and wellbeing by exchanging text messages, voice notes, tip sheets, videos and resource links.
To learn more about the RE:SET FREE tools and other resources, visit, www.nbna.org on December 15th.
To become a member of the National Black Nurses Association and to gain access to the FREE counseling services, visit www.nbna.org.
About National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) Founded in 1971, the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) is a professional organization representing 308,000 African American registered nurses, licensed vocational/practical nurses, and nursing students in 108 chapters and 34 states. The NBNA mission is “to serve as the voice for Black nurses and diverse populations ensuring equal access to professional development, promoting educational opportunities and improving health.” NBNA chapters offer voluntary hours providing health education and screenings to community residents in collaboration with community-based partners, including faith-based organizations, civic, fraternal, hospitals, and schools of nursing. For more information, visit nbna.org. #NBNAResilient
The HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is hosting a virtual symposium on Thursday, September 17, 2020 to highlight state, tribal, territorial and community-based efforts to address COVID-19 among racial and ethnic minority populations. The Advancing the Response to COVID-19: Sharing Promising Programs and Practices for Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities virtual symposium will feature national, state, tribal and local experts leading these efforts and is developed for public health leaders at all levels and community organizations confronting the pandemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a history of systemic health and social inequities have put racial and ethnic minority groups at an elevated risk of contracting COVID-19 or experiencing severe illness, regardless of age. CDC data suggests the prevalence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other underlying conditions also contribute to disparities in health outcomes within communities of color.
The OMH virtual symposium aims to support the dissemination of promising practices, programs and strategies for combating COVID-19, especially in racial and ethnic minority communities.