MEAC Statement on COVID-19’s Impact on African-American Communities


A Howard University student from Trinidad and Tobago wears a face mask and plastic gloves as he moves out of his dorm room in Washington, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. — AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Courtesy of the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference

NORFOLK, Va., May 15, 2020—The Presidents and Chancellors of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) acknowledge the widespread and unprecedented impact the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having on the communities its membership serves, and recognize how disproportionately African-Americans and other minorities have been affected by the virus.
 
While the Council of Presidents and Chancellors within the MEAC is focused on the welfare of our student-athletes, we take our responsibility much more broadly. We understand our role as anchor institutions and, as such, are dedicated to supporting efforts to educate and empower all members of our university and extended communities in the fight against COVID-19. 

As HBCU Presidents and Chancellors, we know the importance of science and scientific inquiry in the fight to arrest and eradicate global pandemics such as the one we currently face. The MEAC is fortunate to have amongst its presidents and chancellors a wide range of expertise to guide us in making decisions that are in the best interest of the communities that have sustained us for more than a century and a half.
 
Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, physician and president of Howard University in Washington, D.C. is the current Chair of the Presidents’ Council and we appreciate his perspectives as we plan and chart new courses of action in the wake of the continuing COVID-19 crisis. 
 
“Our institutions were born out of a need to overcome unequal opportunities and systemic discrimination,” Dr. Frederick said. “This pandemic has emboldened the sacred missions of our institutions to provide solutions to these issues.”

The MEAC Presidents and Chancellors also acknowledge that the devastating toll COVID-19 has taken on the African-American community, specifically, is a result of pervasive racial disparities that negatively impact the longevity and quality of life for black people. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost one-third of infections nationwide have affected African-Americans, although African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population. Likewise, nearly one-third of those who died are African-Americans, according to the analysis of available state and local data by the Associated Press. 
 
The MEAC’s Presidents and Chancellors recognize the symbiotic manner in which economic and social conditions inform public health outcomes and shape the experiences and survival rates of those most vulnerable as a result. We are also quite concerned about the disproportionate economic impact that the virus is having within the African-American community and are calling on our public officials to put in place policies and initiatives to address these disparities.

As HBCU leaders, we are committed to doing our part to keep our students, their families, and the communities we serve, safe, informed and empowered in the global race to end the spread of COVID-19. 
 
The MEAC Presidents and Chancellors want to make clear that our institutions are supporting ongoing efforts to grow and diversify the workforce and produce cutting-edge research to address many of the disparities made more visible by COVID-19.
 
As we make decisions across our campuses, those decisions will be guided by science and research data to ensure that our students, faculty, staff and the general public that we serve are not in harm’s way. As HBCU leaders, we raise our hands to show the African-American community that we are sensitive to their needs and thinking about them and that we care.
 
For more information, visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

MEAC Presidents and Chancellors
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) is made up of 11 outstanding historically black institutions across the Atlantic coastline: Bethune-Cookman University (Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite), Coppin State University (Dr. Anthony Jenkins), Delaware State University (Dr. Tony Allen), Florida A&M University (Dr. Larry Robinson), Howard University (Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick), University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Dr. Heidi M. Anderson), Morgan State University (Dr. David Wilson), Norfolk State University (Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston), North Carolina A&T State University (Dr. Harold L. Martin, Sr.), North Carolina Central University (Dr. Johnson O. Akinleye), South Carolina State University (Mr. James E. Clark) and MEAC Commissioner (Dr. Dennis Thomas).
 
About the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) just completed its 49th year of intercollegiate competition with the 2019-20 academic school year. Located in Norfolk, Va., the MEAC is made up of 11 outstanding historically black institutions across the Atlantic coastline: Bethune-Cookman University, Coppin State University, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Howard University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Morgan State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University and South Carolina State University.



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