Health Disparities Among African Americans and COVID-19

In recent weeks, attention has been given to health inequities faced by African Americans, and the impact of these disparities on the prevalence of COVID-19 in African American communities. Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, has stated that African Americans are at a greater risk of death from the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. Risk factors for African Americans include:

  • disproportionately poor health outcomes
  • limited access to quality health care, housing, education and the like
  • structural inequities such as discrimination and racism
  • and disproportionate employment in service industries where paid sick leave and unemployment benefits are limited

Environmental, economic and political factors have compounded for generations, putting black people at higher risk of chronic conditions that leave lungs weak and immune systems vulnerable, including asthma, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.

Early racial data from around the country has demonstrated the staggering impact of COVID-19 related deaths among African Americans. Though the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. (PAW) is an international organization, we are also a predominantly and historically African American institution that must do justice to our members by addressing concerns that can largely impact our constituents. Therefore, I must continue to urge our leaders, pastors, and community members to make every effort to take care of your self and those whom you lead. I encourage each of us to adhere to regulations set forth by federal and local agencies and authorities to continue social distancing, shelter-in-place where mandated, and to cancel in-person meetings and services.

These are unprecedented times. As a global community, we have not faced circumstances of this nature since the 1918 Spanish Influenza. Though we may feel challenged in our spirits and our doors may be closed, we have an opportunity within the Body of Christ to be the living Church in new and innovative ways, while making every effort to take care of each other. I encourage you to be ever prayerful and to make all necessary precautions to stay healthy. The Lord has been with us thus far, and we can rest in His perfect peace.