February 27, 2021

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National Public Health Officials Join Rev. Sharpton, Rev. Butts and over 100 Leading Black Clergy to Convene on MLK Day to Confront COVID-19 in the Black Community

NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one year after the last MLK Day saw the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States, Choose Healthy Life, led by Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Calvin O. Butts, III, will host the Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Conclave, a convening of 100+ Black clergy, America’s leading public health officials, corporate and scientific leaders to step into the breach and address COVID-19 in the Black community as part of a national mobilization effort to boost testing and additional health resources.

“Tragically, too many African Americans get their first test for COVID-19 when they’re getting admitted to the hospital, having missed the critical early window when some of the best treatments are most effective. We must elevate the importance of both testing and getting the word out about vaccination,” said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the incoming Chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force for the Biden-Harris administration. “The Black Church is among the most trusted institutions in the Black community which makes it an ideal venue to raise awareness and address health disparities,” added Nunez-Smith who will be addressing the Conclave on Monday.

When: The Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Conclave will be held from 10:00 am ET to 11:30 am ET on January 18th, 2020.

For media access to the Conclave, please contact Anne Smith at [email protected], (917) 751-4839.

Non-media members may view the event by visiting the Choose Healthy Life Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/Choose-Healthy-Life-104447088162443/

What: Choose Healthy Life is hosting a Conclave of 100+ Black clergy, America’s leading public health officials, nonprofit and corporate leaders, like United Way of New York City and Quest Diagnostics, for panels and Q&As on COVID-19 in the Black community. The Conclave will also brief leaders on the Choose Healthy Life Action Plan — a sustainable, scalable and transferable approach to address health disparities by providing services such as COVID testing and vaccine education in five major US cities.

This Action Plan is being led by the Choose Healthy Life National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council, co-chaired by Rev. Sharpton (National Action Network, New York, N.Y.) and Rev. Butts (Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York, N.Y.), and includes council members Rev. Jacques DeGraff (Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, New York, N.Y.); Rev. David Jefferson (Metropolitan Baptist Church, Newark, N.J.); Rev. Horace Sheffield (New Destiny Christian Fellowship, Detroit, Mich.); Rev. Frank Tucker (First Baptist Church, Washington D.C.); and Rev. Raphael Warnock (Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.). The Council has among its medical advisors Dr. Louis Sullivan, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, former U.S. Congresswoman Dr. Donna Christensen, and Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies and former Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Key Attendees, Speakers and Panelists:

Rev. Calvin O. Butts, III, Co-Chair, Choose Healthy Life National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council, Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York City, New York
Rev. Al Sharpton, Co-Chair, Choose Healthy Life National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council, National Action Network (NAN) 
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Co-Chair of President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board and incoming Chair of the Health Equity Task Force for the Biden-Harris administration
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
Steve Rusckowski, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Quest Diagnostics
Debra Fraser-Howze, Founder, Choose Healthy Life
Sheena Wright, President and CEO, United Way of New York City
Rev. Jacques DeGraff, Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, New York, N.Y.
Rev. David Jefferson, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Newark, N.J.
Rev. Horace Sheffield, New Destiny Christian Fellowship, Detroit, Mich.
Rev. Frank Tucker, First Baptist Church, Washington D.C.
Dr. Tom Frieden, President and Chief Executive Officer, Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies
Dr. Louis Sullivan, Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Founding Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine
Honorable Dr. Donna Christensen, Member of U.S. Congress (1997 to 2015)
Dr. Wayne J. Riley, President, SUNY Downstate Health Services University, the Chair, Board of Trustees, New York Academy of Medicine and the former 10th President, Meharry Medical College
Dr. Reed Tuckson
, Former Executive Vice President and Chief of Medical Affairs for UnitedHealth Group
Dr. Nancy Messonier, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, President and Chief Executive Officer, Meharry Medical College

To learn more about Choose Healthy Life, please click here.

About Choose Healthy Life
Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Action Plan is a program developed by D. Fraser Associates (DFA) based on the DFA Choose Healthy Life Standard – a sustainable, scalable and transferable approach to public health. The highly successful Standard was created by Debra Fraser-Howze, principal at DFA and founder of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, to address the AIDS epidemic. It is centered around the Black church – the oldest and most trusted institutions in the Black community. Partnering with the United Way agencies, local health departments and community-based organizations, churches receive the necessary resources, training and support to make available health services to the region’s most vulnerable individuals. The Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Action Plan has been made possible through the support of founding partner Quest Diagnostics, the Quest Diagnostics Foundation and from Resolve to Save Lives, a global health initiative focused on helping advance scalable, proven strategies to prevent and address epidemics. To learn more, visit: www.ChooseHealthyLife.org 

About United Way of New York City
United Way of New York City (UWNYC) fights for the self-sufficiency of every low-income New Yorker by taking on the toughest challenges and creating new solutions to old problems. We win by helping families shift from barely surviving to thriving. We unite by mobilizing the best ideas, relevant data, internal and external experts, and resources—from money to manpower. UWNYC maximizes impact by coordinating and aligning organizations, companies, local government, and New Yorkers to help families eliminate tough choices and live better while making ends meet. To learn more, visit: www.unitedwaynyc.org.

About Quest Diagnostics
Quest Diagnostics empowers people to take action to improve health outcomes. Derived from the world’s largest database of clinical lab results, our diagnostic insights reveal new avenues to identify and treat disease, inspire healthy behaviors and improve health care management. Quest Diagnostics annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and our 47,000 employees understand that, in the right hands and with the right context, our diagnostic insights can inspire actions that transform lives. www.QuestDiagnostics.com.

About Resolve to Save Lives
Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, aims to prevent at least 100 million deaths from cardiovascular disease and epidemics. Through its Prevent Epidemics program, Resolve to Save Lives has rapidly leveraged existing networks to partner with countries throughout Africa and beyond to combat COVID-19. Resolve is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is part of the global health organization Vital Strategies. To find out more visit: https://www.resolvetosavelives.org or Twitter @ResolveTSL.

Resolve to Save Lives created a website called PreventEpidemics.org that shows how prepared each country is for an epidemic, including COVID-19. This site is also a resource for current coronavirus statistics and resources.

SOURCE Choose Healthy Life