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    Congressional Black Caucus, civil rights organizations challenge CDC to provide reports on rate of infections

    With evidence growing that shows African Americans disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus, just nine states and the District of Columbia have released a racial breakdown of those diagnosed with the disease.

    Concerned health experts, members of the U.S. Congress, and civil rights organizations have ramped up their call for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide a detailed report.

    “We know that there’s a disproportionate rate of infections and death nationwide,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) stated in a conference call with the Black Press of America represented by the National Newspaper Publishers Association on Tuesday, April 7.

    “It’s happening in all of our [African American] communities nationwide. We feel that it’s an emergency that needs to be addressed right away, and, importantly, we need data, and the CDC is not compiling data,” Bass added.

    Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, agreed that statistics along racial lines are vital. “The data already released shows troubling trends for African Americans that must be addressed to ensure public health,” Kelly said.

    African Americans make up about 18 percent of the population in Michigan but account for approximately 40 percent of coronavirus-related deaths, according to Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-Michigan).

    “I am speaking as just one part of the major piece of concern, and that’s the alarming way in how this pandemic is having an impact on our Black community,” Lawrence said.

    “We are the number one target for this disease. We have pre-existing conditions, and yet we’re told to go home when we visit the emergency room. We know that there must be some form of regulation in place for testing and getting testing sites and equipment into the community,” Lawrence said.

    The Louisiana Department of Health revealed that 70 percent of coronavirus deaths in the state are African American, despite Black people making up just 32 percent of the population. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, African Americans reportedly accounted for nearly half of coronavirus cases and more than 80 percent of deaths related to the disease.

    “I have seen in my waiting room mostly Black and Brown patients who are essential workers and service workers who can’t afford to stay home,” Uche Blackstone, the CEO of Advancing Health Equity, told The Hill.

    “These are the ones that I see presenting to the clinic with COVID-19 symptoms,” Blackstone said.

    Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) led a group from congress recently in demanding that the federal government release data about racial disparities in America’s response to the pandemic. Pressley said she and her colleagues made clear in the letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that the government is failing to collect and publicly report on the racial and ethnic demographic information for coronavirus tests and patients.

    “Without demographic data, policymakers and researchers will have no way to identify and address ongoing disparities and health inequities that risk accelerating the impact of the novel coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes,” the letter stated.

    “Although COVID-19 does not discriminate along racial or ethnic lines, existing racial disparities and inequities in health outcomes and health care access may mean that the nation’s response to preventing and mitigating its harms will not be felt equally in every community.”

    Dr. Ebony Hilton and Dr. Taison Bell, of the Virginia Medical School, have publicly demanded the release of racial data surrounding the virus.

    “Release the data,” said Hilton, who continuously posts that message on social media sites.

    “We see in states that aren’t reporting on racial demographics that there’s been a surge in patients dying from respiratory distress and respiratory failure,” Bell said.

    The NNPA and its Coronavirus Task Force was the first media-related entity in the U.S. to declare a “State of Emergency for Black America” as the fatalities among Black Americans continue to rise across the nation. Using social media to increase public awareness about COVID-19, the NNPA is encouraging the use of the following hashtags: #SaveBlackLives and #NNPACoronavirusTaskForce.

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

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    Congressman says Democrats who want to win in November must advertise in the Black Press

    While there’s at least a perceived growing number of Democrats who say they want to replace California Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn has emerged as a favorite among his peers to become the first African American to hold that position.

    In an exclusive interview with the NNPA Newswire, the 25-year congressman said that, while he’s ready for the challenge, Democrats currently have much bigger fish to fry.

    “The first order of business is to win the [midterm] elections on November 6,” Clyburn said. “That’s what I’ve been concentrating on.”

    Clyburn and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric Richmond each told the NNPA Newswire that they’ve identified 37 districts across the country they believe can be won by Democrats this year, which would wrest control of the House from Republicans.

    “We feel, with the right kind of effort, we can win,” Clyburn said.

    Clyburn listed three keys to success this November.

    The first key, Clyburn said, is to prioritize the Black vote; Democrats can’t afford to take the African American vote for granted.

    The secondly, the Democrats shouldn’t rely on an anti-President Donald Trump wave to get out the vote. Finally, Clyburn said that candidates must advertise in the Black Press , if they want to win in November.

    “We are also talking about districts where Barack Obama won twice and where Hillary Clinton also won, but these voters don’t turn out for the so-called ‘off-year elections,’” Clyburn said. “We can’t let these voters feel like we’re taking them for granted.”

    Clyburn, 78, said he was recently taken aback by one candidate, who said that he could win the Black vote by running on an anti-Trump platform.

    “Wait one second,” Clyburn said that he told the individual. “We can’t just go around being ‘Republican-light.’ We have to be out there putting forth an alternative message, for our base, and we have to reach out to Black voters and let them know we’re not taking them or any of our base for granted.”

    To that end, Clyburn said advertising campaigns must largely include the Black Press.

    “It’s very, very important…Chairman Richmond and I have had candidates in and we’ve been telling them that one of the best ways to demonstrate that you’re not taking the Black vote for granted is to advertise in the Black Press,” Clyburn said.

    The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is the oldest and largest trade group representing the Black Press, comprised of more than 200 Black-owned newspapers operating in the the United States.

    “I’ve been in [the Black Press]. My daughter and I ran a newspaper down South, so I know that candidates tend to take Black media for granted,” Clyburn said. “They tend to judge Black media the same way they do other media and you just can’t do that, because the business model is totally different.”

    Each Sunday after attending Morris Brown A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., Clyburn said he and other churchgoers habitually pick up the local Black-owned newspaper.

    “People tend to pay attention to the headlines, the stories and the ads in the Black Press so it’s vitally important that candidates know this,” Clyburn said.

    A former history teacher, Clyburn said Trump’s obsession with dismantling Obama’s legacy is reminiscent of tactics employed by Andrew Johnson to demean his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln.

    Johnson, who was impeached by House, had a vision of America as a White man’s government, according to historians.

    “If you remember, it’s the same kind of reaction Johnson had to Lincoln and I remember sitting alone once in the Oval Office with Obama and I told him that this would be the kind of reaction he could expect,” Clyburn said.

    “[Obama] was never going to get the kind of respect for his presidency that was shown to presidents before him,” Clyburn said. “The narrative that exists in this country is that there are certain things that Black folks are not supposed to do and one of those things is becoming the president of the United States and [President Trump] and his administration, feel they have to do whatever they can to wipe out any semblance that Barack Obama was ever president of the United States.”

    Clyburn continued: “[Trump] has a deep-seated hatred for people of color and it manifests itself every day.”

    Though he doesn’t support or agree politically with former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, Clyburn said he was deeply troubled when Trump referred to her as a “low life” and a “dog.”

    “I’m the father of three daughters and I’m deeply insulted by the president of the United States referring to an African American women the way he referred to her,” he said. “Politics aside, I’m insulted that the president of the United States would denigrate the office in this way.”

    Clyburn continued: “The president asked an important question when he was running, ‘What do we have to lose?’ Well, we have lost dignity and the respect of the presidency, because of his coarseness in the office. When you lose respect, you’ve lost about everything there is to lose.”

    While he still supports Pelosi, Clyburn said that if the Democrats take back the House, he’s up for the job as speaker.

    “I have always supported her, but I have always remembered a sermon I heard my father give a number of times,” Clyburn said. “That sermon stayed with me and he said, ‘keep your lamps trimmed and burning to be ready when the bridegroom comes.’ My point is, I’ve never forgotten that sermon so I keep my lamp burning so I’m ready.”

    Stacy Brown is an NNPA Newswire Contributor and co-author of “Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask: An Insider’s Story of the King of Pop.” Follow Stacy on Twitter @stacybrownmedia.

    This article was originally published on BlackPressUSA.com.

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