An MTSU professor will work to disseminate information to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in communities of color as a member of a statewide task force.
The Office of Minority Health, a division of the Tennessee Department of Health, has appointed Chandra Story, an associate professor of community and public health, to a statewide health disparities task force.
“I’m passionate about minority health, specifically African Americans and women,” Story said.
OMH Director Monique Anthony previously had met Story, who mentioned her research into health disparities to Anthony, particularly with regard to African American health, and offered her assistance whenever Anthony thought it was needed.
The email invitation Story received stated that the task force will “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of disseminating information to communities” and “examine existing data, monitor trends and hear from those living (in), working (in) and serving our communities to generate responsive solutions and policies to reduce those disparities.”
Meetings will take place weekly each Thursday at 1 p.m. Central time via teleconference. At the initial meeting April 16, the state health department shared current data, and the OMH announced that a communications campaign for communities of color will be launched in the near future. Story said at least 30 individuals were on the conference call.
“Stakeholders on the call included (state) Senator (Brenda) Gilmore, diverse representatives from nonprofits and faith-based communities, faith-based mental health area coordinators from the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and other university representatives,” Story said.
Preliminary data indicate that black and brown communities are disproportionately affected adversely by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, health officials contend that the lack of data is a tremendous problem. As of April 22, only two states, Kansas and Illinois, had made COVID-19 testing data by race and ethnicity public, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. Story said chronic disease compounds the impact of COVID-19 among communities of color.
“I have family members, friends and students impacted by the effects of chronic disease and a health care system that does not always respond adequately to communities of color,” Story said. “The disparities are highlighted during this epidemic, so I am pleased to be part of the solution.”
For more information, contact Story at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the task force web page at https://tinyurl.com/ybkfgb6e.
Community and Public Health is a program within the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.
— Gina Logue (email@example.com)