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CHL program addresses health disparities through Black churches

 As of December 29, 2021, in Illinois there were 22,000 new COVID cases with 50 deaths reported, as well as an increase in the Test Positivity rate from 12.4 to 13.2, which is up 63% from last week, according to the latest data. Hospitalizations were also up 28% over the last seven days.

One consistent message being echoed by health officials and the medical community with the surge in COVID cases as a result of the omicron variant is that people who are vaccinated are experiencing less severe symptoms. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady recently said, “The good news is that the vaccine is still highly protective against infection.”

This is why many Black Churches across the nation and in Chicago are working to address the disparate impacts of COVID-19 in their communities. One program that has proven to be successful is the Choose Healthy Life program (CHL).

Choose Healthy Life is a program developed by D. Fraser Associates (DFA) based on the DFA Choose Healthy Life Standard – a sustainable, scalable, and transferable approach to address public health disparities and inequities in the Black community. 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. Since its launch earlier this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Choose Healthy Life has engaged over 6 million and vaccinated over 50,000 in the Black communities it serves among its 120 churches spread across 13 states.

OAKDALE CHURCH EXTERIOR1

Choose Healthy Life established the National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council, co-chaired by Rev. Al Sharpton (National Action Network) and Rev. Calvin O. Butts III (Abyssinian Baptist Church, NYC). The Council includes city clergy leaders 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 U.S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock (Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Ga.).

The national co-chairs and other clergy address the COVID-19 by focusing on educating and increasing vaccination rates in the Black community and then sharing information about the best efforts to build confidence in vaccines, and break down historical health disparities.

Recently, five churches in Chicago were selected to join the Choose Healthy Life program by the council. The three that are currently participating are Greater Mount Vernon, Rev. Charles Rogers; Oakdale Covenant Church, Rev. D. Darrell Griffin; and New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Marshall Hatch, Sr.

Partnering with United Way of New York City and affiliated local United Way agencies, local health departments, and community health organizations, churches receive the necessary resources, training and support to make available health services to local communities that are most vulnerable.

According to Fraser-Howze, this enables the Black churches to reclaim their roles as an important resource to the community by providing trusted information from the science professionals in a faith-based partnership.

Because the omicron variant is more infectious than COVID-19 or the Delta variant, the three Chicago churches will be implementing a very aggressive testing and vaccination campaign after the holiday in the communities they serve throughout January.

The following is a schedule of upcoming testing and vaccination dates

CHL Chicago Church Pastors

Rev. Dr. Darrell Griffin, Sr. Pastor, Oakdale Covenant Church, 9440 S. Vincennes Ave., Chicago, IL; Events: January 7, 2022 – Vaccine Clinic, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Rev. Charles Rogers, Sr. Pastor, Greater Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, 8700 S. Laflin Ave., Chicago, IL; Events: January 14, 2022 – CHL Chicago Clergy Conclave and Vaccine/COVID-19 Testing Clinic, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

January 21, 2022 – Remote Travel Vaccine Clinic, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; New Home Baptist Church, 4804 W. Polk, Chicago, IL; and Rev. Marshall Hatch, Sr. Pastor,

New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, 4301 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago, IL; Events: January 2, 2022 – Vaccine / COVID-19 Testing Clinic, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; January 9, 2022 – COVID-19 Testing Clinic, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; January 16, 2022 – COVID-19 Testing Clinic, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; January 23, 2022 – Vaccine / COVID-19 Testing Clinic, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; January 31, 2022 – Vaccine / COVID-19 Testing Clinic, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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