Newswire: Robert F. Smith , Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan Frank Bakers and William Pickard top list of Black donors to HBCUs

five top donors

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association

Billionaire philanthropist and novelist MacKenzie Scott’s $560 million donation last year to 23 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) made headlines across the country at a time when racial equity has become front-page news. However, for decades Black leaders in business, entertainment, education, and other fields have been the main sources of philanthropic donations to HBCUs.
A recent Washington Post story found that Black Americans donate a higher share of their wealth than their white counterparts – to the tune of around $11 billion each year. Given their cultural and educational importance to the Black community, HBCUs are the repository of much of these donations with a number of household names – and some you may not know – making big-dollar contributions to these institutions.

Here are some of the most prominent Black philanthropists to donate to HBCUS:
Robert F. Smith – Chairman & CEO, Vista Equity Partners 

Smith, the billionaire investor behind the software private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, drew widespread praise in May 2019 when he announced that he and his family would pay off the entire student loan debt of the 2019 Morehouse College graduating class of 396 students. Along with paying off the student debt, Smith’s $35 million donation also helped establish the Student Success Program to reduce or eliminate debt for all Morehouse grads. The private equity guru also gave the school an additional $1.5 million to create the Robert Frederick Smith Scholars Program and build a park on campus.
As board chair of the Student Freedom Initiative – a plan to provide STEM students at HBCUs with a family-centric, income-contingent payment alternative to high-cost, fixed-payment debt – Smith pledged $50 million. Smith’s donation jumpstarted the initiative, which hopes to raise $500 million for the effort and began operations in the fall of 2021 at eleven HBCUs.

“Each year, thousands of Black graduates from HBCUs across America enter the workforce with a crushing debt burden that stunts future decisions and prevents opportunities and choices,” Smith said. “The initiative is purposefully built to redress historic economic and social inequities and to offer a sustainable, scalable platform to invest in the education of future Black leaders.”
Oprah Winfrey, Television Personality, Philanthropist, Author, Entrepreneur & Actress

Most people may know the philanthropic acts of Oprah – who, like Beyoncé, Prince, and Zendaya needs no further introduction – through the infamous “You get a Car!” episode of her talk show, but she is also quietly, one of the biggest donors to HBCUs in the country.
In 2019, Oprah donated $13 million to Morehouse College to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program at the HBCU. Overall, Oprah has donated at least $25 million to the Atlanta school. “I felt that the very first time I came here,” Oprah said. “The money was an offering to support that in these young men. I understand that African American men are an endangered species. They are so misunderstood. They are so marginalized.”

Besides her gift to Morehouse, Oprah also donated $1.5 million to the United Negro College Fund to help pay for scholarships for Black students and general scholarship funds for 37 private HBCUs.
Frank Baker – Founder and Managing Partner of Siris Capital

Baker, the founder of private equity firm Siris, along with his wife, interior designer Laura Day Baker, donated $1 million in May 2020 to establish a scholarship fund at Atlanta’s Spelman College, the oldest private historically Black liberal arts college for women.
Initially, the scholarship paid off the existing spring tuition balances of nearly 50 members of Spelman’s 2020 graduating class and the remaining funds are meant to ensure that future high achieving graduating seniors have the financial resources to graduate.
“We are all aware of the headwinds that people of color — especially women — face in our country, the challenges of which are made even more apparent by the economic and health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the couple said in a press release. “We believe it is critical that talented women finish college and confidently enter – free of undue financial stress – the initial stage of their professional careers.

William F. Pickard – Businessman, Co-owner of Real Times Media 

Detroit businessman and philanthropist Pickard has a long history of donating to HBCUs across the country. Most recently Pickard and his cousin, Cincinnati businessman Judson W. Pickard Jr., donated $2 million to Morehouse College to create the Pickard Scholars Program. This program will recruit and support Black students from metro Detroit, Flint, greater Cincinnati, and LaGrange, Georgia to attend the Atlanta HBCU.
“People have uplifted and helped me grow and I believe in blessing others,” Pickard, whose children attended Morehouse, told the Atlanta Tribune. “Our gifts are given to where we are from and those who have invested in us and who we are.”
The Pickard Family Foundation also donated $100,000 to the National Black MBA Association to create the William F. Pickard Business Scholarship Fund. The fund is open to qualified business student members at several HBCUs who need help financing their education.
Michael Jordan – Former NBA Superstar 

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time and is almost single-handedly responsible for transforming the game into the global phenomenon it is today. So, if anybody knows how to make an impact on HBCUs, it would be His Airness.
The six-time NBA champion and five-time league MVP, along with Nike’s Jordan Brand, donated $1 million last year to Morehouse College to boost the school’s journalism and sports-related studies program. The donation is meant to bolster a program launched thanks to the donation of another icon, director Spike Lee.
“Education is crucial for understanding the Black experience today,” Jordan said in a press release. “We want to help people understand the truth of our past and help tell the stories that will shape our future.”

The donation to Morehouse is part of a pledge made by Jordan and his brand in 2020 to donate $100 million over the next ten years to combat racism across the country.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr is President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and is the Executive Producer/Host of The Chavis Chronicles (TCC) television show broadcast weekly on PBS TV stations throughout the United States.

Newswire: Keeping the legacy of legendary Supremes star Mary Wilson alive

Mary Wilson

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Mary Wilson was a friend to the Black Press of America, a neighbor to the world, and the radiance she exuded never seem to fade. At 76, the Supremes legend is gone too soon.
Wilson died suddenly late Monday, Feb. 8, at her home just outside of Las Vegas.
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes,” Motown founder Berry Gordy wrote in a statement emailed to NNPA Newswire.
Gordy emphasized, “The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown.’ Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960s. After an unprecedented string of number one hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others.”
“I was always proud of Mary,” Berry Gordy concluded.  “She was quite a star in her own right and continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes over the years. Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva, and will be deeply missed.”
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO, affirmed, “On behalf of NNPA Chair Karen Cater Richards and all of the 230 African American NNPA member publishers across the United States and the Caribbean, we pause solemnly today to pay tribute and our profound respects to the living memory, legacy and cultural genius of our beloved Mary Wilson. She loved and supported the Black Press of America, and we will always love and keep Mary Wilson’s transformative spirit in our hearts as the NNPA continues to publish truth to power in America and throughout the world.”
In a 2020 interview on the Black Press of America’s “Fiyah!” livestream program, Wilson talked about her life and career and her long pursuit of having Florence Ballard memorialized with a United States Postal Service stamp.“People forget that Florence Ballard not only gave us our name, but she formed the group,” Wilson revealed on “Fiyah!”

“It was really Flo who formed us, and I want people to know that. I am putting together a program to get Florence Ballard a U.S. stamp, hopefully, so I want people to send their request and say something about Florence. All those hits were Florence, so when you listening to [The Supremes], it’s about Flo, so I want people who listen to those songs that bring back memories, think about Flo.”
A singer, best-selling author, motivational speaker, businesswoman, former U.S. Cultural Ambassador, mother, and grandmother, the legendary Mary Wilson made great strides on her inevitable journey to greatness.
As an original/founding member of The Supremes, she changed the face of popular music to become a trendsetter who broke down social, racial, and gender barriers, which all started with the wild success of their first number one song.
Formed in Detroit as The Primettes in 1959, The Supremes were Motown’s most successful act of the 1960s, scoring 12 No. 1 singles.
They also continue to reign as America’s most successful vocal group to date. Their influence not only carries on in contemporary R&B, soul, and pop, but they also helped pave the way for Black artists’ mainstream success across all genres.
Mary achieved an unprecedented 12 No.1 hits, with 5 of them being consecutive from 1964-1965. Those songs are “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “Back in My Arms Again,” according to Billboard Magazine.
In 2018, Billboard celebrated the 60th anniversary of Motown with a list of “The Hot 100’s Top Artists of All Time”, where The Supremes ranked at No. 16 and remain the No. 1 female recording group of all time.
Jan. 21, 2021, marked the 60th anniversary of the day The Supremes signed with Motown in 1961. This year, Mary kicked off the celebration of the 60th anniversary of The Supremes.
“With the same passion as she did singing with the original Supremes as well as with her solo career, the world-renowned performer was an advocate for social and economic challenges in the United States and abroad,” Wilson’s longtime publicist and friend, Jay Schwartz, said.
“Ms. Wilson used her fame and flair to promote a diversity of humanitarian efforts, including ending hunger, raising HIV/AIDS awareness, and encouraging world peace. Mary was working on getting a U.S. postage stamp of her fellow bandmate and original Supreme Florence Ballard who passed away in 1976,” Schwartz said.
In 2018, Mary’s longtime fight for the passage of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) came to fruition when it was signed into law on Oct. 11.
The law modernized copyright-related issues for new music and audio recordings due to new forms of technology like digital streaming, which did not protect music recorded before Feb. 15, 1972, according to Schwartz.
Her tireless advocacy for this legislation included trips to Washington D.C. to personally meet with Congress members to advocate for legacy artists gaining fair compensation when their songs are played on digital radio stations, Schwartz continued.
“I think that The Supremes had a lot to do with the awakening of the world in terms of what blackness was,” Wilson said in her 2020 NNPA interview. “The whole world was watching Black people in a way they’d never seen.”

Newswire: Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the impact and severity of COVID-19 disparities in African Americans

Dr. Anthony Fauci

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

During a 30-minute interview with BlackPressUSA that was streamed live over Facebook, YouTube, and http://www.BlackPressUSA.com, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke of the importance of convincing African Americans to participate in clinical trials. He also said that school re-openings should depend mainly upon the location and the infection rate in a given area.
Fauci also said a viable coronavirus vaccine is likely only a few months away.
“The fundamental principle is that we should try as best as we possibly can to get children back to school because we know the psychological aspect of that and the unintended consequences for mothers and fathers who may need to stop working, so we should try to get back to school,” Dr. Fauci said when asked about the impact of the pandemic on the upcoming school year.
“However, paramount needs to be the safety, health, and welfare of children, teachers, and families,” Dr. Fauci added.
“We live in a big country. Some places have low incidents and can open schools while some are high. Some areas rate of infection is so high where it’s not prudent to open schools. You don’t want to endanger their health.”
A member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Fauci has at times found himself at odds with President Donald Trump. For example, earlier this year, the president announced that he would withdraw U.S. funding and support for the World Health Organization (WHO). However, Dr. Fauci told BlackPressUSA that he still maintains a close relationship with the organization.
“I still work closely with the World Health Organization,” said Dr. Fauci. “I’m on a weekly phone call with them, and I signed a memorandum of understanding. We’re all in with the WHO.”
During the interview, which included National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Dr. Fauci also demonstrated the proper way to wear a facemask. “Early on, there was a shortage of masks because we didn’t want to take masks away from health providers who needed them,” Dr. Fauci remarked. “It’s easy to get a cloth mask now.”
Dr. Fauci explained further that, “when there are droplets when someone sneezes or coughs, you [are protected]. You can take it and wash it with soap and water or stick it in the washing machine.”
Addressing the disparities surrounding COVID-19 and other illnesses, Dr. Fauci pointed to many African Americans, Latinx, and Native Americans occupying essential jobs that provide employees with little — or no — protection.
“On the one hand, there’s a greater opportunity and risk of getting infected, but even as important is that once you get infected, you have prevalence and incidence of co-morbidities that make it more likely you’ll get a severe outcome from the infection,” Dr. Fauci noted.
“Those co-morbidities are like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and lung disease. It’s very clear that African Americans have a higher incidence, and the reality is that you suffer more.”
The hospitalization rates per 100,000 people are stunning when comparing African Americans and Caucasians, Dr. Fauci proclaimed. “In many respects, it’s unacceptable that it should be that way,” he said, noting that the hospitalization rate per 100,000 African Americans stands at 247, compared to 53 per 100,000 whites.
“In other words, that’s almost five times the chance of getting hospitalized even though African Americans comprise just 13 percent of the [U.S.] population,” Dr. Fauci observed. “That’s more than something we need to deal with.”
Dr. Fauci added that there are five fundamental things everyone could do to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Wear a mask, avoid crowds of more than 10, keep a distance of at least six feet, locations should seriously consider closing bars and getting people who go to bars to stop or do it outside, and wash hands frequently either with soap and water or alcohol Purell.”
Clinical trials are vital, Dr. Fauci said. “We hope that we will have an effective vaccine by the end of the year, which means that as we get into 2021, we want to distribute it for those who could benefit,” he added.
“We need to spend extra effort to protect African Americans, and the way you find out if the vaccine is effective is the enrollment in a vaccine trial. It would be a terrible shame if African Americans stayed away from clinical trials, and they didn’t provide for themselves the vaccine that could protect them.”
Dr. Fauci suggested that he wears a mask everywhere goes and demanded that doing so shouldn’t be about politics. “This is about protecting each other. We’re all in this together,” Dr. Fauci said.
“I’m pleased to see that we now have the president talking about wearing a mask where he didn’t before, and the vice president wears a mask everywhere he goes. We’ve got to pull together.”

Newswire : Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden clarifies message to Black America

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrown

Joe Biden campaign rally


Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden clarified his message to Black America after the GOP, and others, seized on a remark he made in jest while wrapping up an interview with the famous Breakfast Club.
“I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden stated after the comments to show host, Charlamagne Tha God, went viral.
“I shouldn’t have been so cavalier. No one should have to vote for any party based on their race, religion, and background.”
As the Breakfast Club interview wrapped and a Biden aide said he was running short on time, Charlamagne asked the former vice president to stop by the studio when Biden returns to New York. It’s a long way until November,” Charlamagne told Biden. “We’ve got more questions.”
Biden replied, “You’ve got more questions?” “Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for Trump or me, then you ain’t black.”
Republicans seized on the remark, with some sending emails to NNPA Newswire claiming that Biden was “race-baiting.”
In response, NNPA Newswire asked members of the GOP to address what many in the African American community believe have been the racially-charged remarks and actions of the president. There was no response.
“The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period,” Biden’s senior advisor Symone D. Sanders wrote on Twitter.
“Vice President Biden spent his career fighting alongside and for the African American community. He won his party’s nomination by earning every vote and meeting people where they are, and that’s exactly what he intends to do this November,” Sanders stated.
In a “Meet the Black Press” segment of an interview on the web-based show, “Make It Plain,” National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, said people should react favorably to the exchange.
“Charlamagne always asks pointed questions, he takes no prisoners and he’s a great brother,” Chavis stated. “But, the vice president is a street fighter who comes from Wilmington, Delaware. Remember, he was speaking directly to Charlamagne.”
Pressed further, Dr. Chavis noted that the issue boils down to the current administration verses a possible Biden administration.
“What Black people have to decide is not all of the prerequisites, but given what we know today, what is our aspirations? Who can best improve our quality of life? That’s the issue,” Chavis stated.
“We can’t get caught up in personality politics. I would rather have a president who speaks from the heart, from the gut, than a president who speaks from a teleprompter. I want to know what Biden is thinking about. That he’s thinking about Black, White, Latino, about the oneness of man.
“I would prefer to hear what he has to say, rather than to muzzle him. I tell hip-hop artists that they have freedom of expression, but they have to be responsible for what they put out. You have the freedom to say what you want, but after you say it, you have to be accountable.”
In an interview with NNPA Newswire in February, Biden said the Black vote was critical to anyone with aspirations of winning in November.
Biden’s Plan for Black America.
Last month, he called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to collect more data regarding how COVID-19 is affecting communities, including breaking down its impact by race.
“The data we’ve seen so far suggests that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than whites. Long-standing systemic inequalities are contributing to this disparity – including the fact that African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and to live in communities where they are exposed to high levels of air pollution,” Biden stated.
Barack Obama’s former vice president’s plan for Black America includes:
• Advance the economic mobility of African Americans and close the racial wealth and income gaps.
• Expand access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system.
• Make far-reaching investments in ending health disparities by race.
• Strengthen America’s commitment to justice.
• Make the right to vote and the right to equal protection real for African Americans.
Address environmental justice.
Biden, who this month fiercely denounced the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, noted that he spearheaded the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which authorized funding both for the hiring of additional police officers and for training on how to undertake a community policing approach.
However, the program has never been funded to fulfill the original vision for community policing. He said he would reinvigorate the COPS program with a $300 million investment.
As a condition of the grant, Biden stated that hiring police officers must mirror the racial diversity of the community they serve. Additionally, as President, Biden promises to establish a panel to scrutinize what equipment is used by law enforcement in our communities.
He said he would invest in public defenders’ offices to ensure defendants’ access to quality counsel, and create a $20 billion grant program to support criminal justice reform at the state and local level.
Biden pledged to work with Congress to reform federal sentencing and provide incentives to state and local systems to do the same. He said he would end once and for all, the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity, decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions.
The Democrat also promises to end the criminalization of poverty and cash bail, which he called the modern-day debtors’ prison.
“We need a comprehensive agenda for African Americans with an ambition that matches the scale of the challenge and with a recognition that race-neutral policies are not a sufficient response to race-based disparities,” Biden noted.

Newswire: Coalition of civil rights leaders support CBC in protecting Black health

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 3, 2020 – National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., National Action Network (NAN) Founder Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and the Black Women’s Health Imperative, are up in arms because they say too many Washington politicians are protecting insurance company profits over health care for African Americans.
Collectively, they argue that too often, insurance companies refuse to cover emergency services, and either patients are forced to pay bills they cannot afford, or hospitals are shuttering.
Congress claims to be tackling this challenge, but until the Congressional Black Caucus got involved, Congress focused only on protecting insurer profits, not people, according to the coalition.
Chavis, Sharpton, and others are throwing their support behind the CBC.
They’re asking that others also support the CBC.
Led by Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the 55-member CBC has worked almost non-stop in fighting for health equity in the African American community.
The CBC works to protect and expand voting rights, comprehensive criminal justice reform, building a more inclusive economy, and ensuring access to quality and affordable healthcare.
A primary focus of the CBC remains to target insurance companies that have disproportionately neglected the needs of African Americans while also providing below standard care.
“This outrageous situation benefits one group and one group alone: powerful insurance executives, who have managed to get off the financial hook for such bills, even as insurers shrink insurance coverage networks to wring more and more profits out of the system,” Chavis has stated.
He and the other leaders have continued to express strong opposition to any legislation that would give insurers more control over health care prices.
In their continued push for health equality, the group is working to ensure that insurance companies expand their networks and cover more emergency services. This will maintain access to care in hard-hit Black communities. “The status quo means hospitals in our communities close first,” the group noted in a statement.
“We cannot let this happen. Together, we can ensure that the old way of doing business – putting insurance company profits over people – STOPS.”
They continued: Join us and support the CBC. Help us work to make sure Congress passes a bill that keeps us healthy and alive by allowing insurance networks to grow and cover lifesaving services.”

Newswire: State of Emergency declared for Black America as public health experts reveal Coronavirus is airborne

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton
While many medical doctors maintain that the novel coronavirus is transmitted through droplets from coughs or sneezes, more and more medical experts and officials who work primarily with infectious respiratory illnesses and aerosols are convinced that the disease is airborne.
Today, as a result of recent medical research and data, The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. has issued a solemn national public warning and alert to nearly 50 million African Americans. “Black America is now in a state of emergency as a result of the disproportionately deadly impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our families and communities across the United States,” Chavis stated. “The coronavirus is now airborne. That means that the coronavirus can be in air that we breath.”
“Black Americans should stay at home and only leave home for critical life-essential reasons,” Chavis emphasized. “In fact, all Americans should stay at home to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. But I must emphasize that because before the spread of the coronavirus, Black Americans were already disproportionately burdened with multiple preexisting health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, our communities are more vulnerable to the impact of the coronavirus, including higher rates of fatalities.”
A Pro Publica report revealed that African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81 percent of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is only 26 percent Black. Milwaukee is one of the few places in the United States that is tracking the racial breakdown of people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus, offering a glimpse at the disproportionate destruction it is inflicting on Black communities nationwide.
In Michigan, where the state’s population is 14 percent Black, African Americans made up 35 percent of cases and 40 percent of deaths as of Friday, April 3. Detroit, where a majority of residents are Black, has emerged as a hot spot with a high death toll. As has New Orleans, according to Pro Publica.
Louisiana has not published case breakdowns by race, but 40 percent of the state’s deaths have happened in Orleans Parish, where the majority of residents are Black.
Illinois and North Carolina are two of the few areas publishing statistics on COVID-19 cases by race, and their data shows a disproportionate number of African Americans were infected, according to the report.
“We know in the US that there are great discrepancies in not only the diagnosis but the treatment that African Americans and other minorities are afforded,” stated Dr. Ebony Hilton, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia Health Systems.
“So, I want to make sure that in this pandemic, that Black and brown people are treated in the same way and that these tests are made available in the same pattern as for white people,” Dr. Hilton said.
Medical experts have also sounded the alarm that the virus could well be transmitted through the air.
“Currently available research supports the possibility that (COVID-19) could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation,” Harvey Fineberg, who heads a standing committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, wrote in an April 1, 2020 letter to Kelvin Droegemeier, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). “One must be cautious in imputing the findings with one respiratory virus to another respiratory virus, as each virus may have its own effective infectious inoculum and distinct aerosolization characteristics,” Fineberg wrote.
“Studies that rely on PCR to detect the presence of viral RNA may not represent virus in sufficient amounts to produce infection. Nevertheless, the presence of viral RNA in air droplets and aerosols indicates the possibility of viral transmission via these routes.”
Fineberg penned the letter in response to a request from the White House OSTP. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a standing committee of experts to help inform OSTP on critical science and policy issues related to emerging infectious diseases and other public health threats. The standing committee includes members with expertise in emerging infectious diseases, public health, public health preparedness and response, biological sciences, clinical care and crisis standards of care, risk communication, and regulatory issues.
“The results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing,” Fineberg wrote.
He noted an airflow modeling study that followed a coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong in the early 2000s supports the potential for transmission via bioaerosols.
In that study, the significantly increased risk of infection to residents on higher floors of a building that was home to an infected individual indicated to the researchers a pattern of disease consistent with a rising plume of contaminated warm air.
“In the mind of scientists working on this, there’s absolutely no doubt that the virus spreads in the air. This is a no-brainer.” Lidia Morawska, at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, told the medical website, nature.com.
A March 2020 Cambridge Research study of those with influenza revealed that 39 percent of individuals exhaled infectious aerosols, which experts noted that, as long as an airspace is shared with someone else, breathing in the air they exhale, it’s possible for airborne transmission of the coronavirus.
“It’s airborne,” Dr. Angela Guerrera, an emergency medicine specialist in New Jersey, told NNPA Newswire. “If someone has the disease, they don’t have to cough and sneeze or spit. If you then go into their space, you can probably get it,” Dr. Guerrera stated.
Some experts said they are convinced that a primary reason that governments and organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have shied away from stating that the virus is in the air is to prevent panic and because it could take years and cost hundreds of millions of lives before indisputable evidence can be presented.

Newswire : Black leaders call out big insurance over surprise medical billing

By Hazel Trice Edney

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, CEO -NNPA

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Prominent figures in the African-American community are calling on Congress to rein in large insurance companies as lawmakers look to address an increasingly urgent problem in the health care market that falls especially hard on working families, including African-Americans.
The problem is known as surprise medical billing, a situation that occurs when a patient is hospitalized and then receives a hefty bill from a doctor who turns out to be outside of his or her insurer’s network.
The practice is costing American patients tens of millions of dollars in unforeseen medical fees, at a time when many are already burdened by higher premiums and rising co-payments. Nearly half of Americans say they have avoided going to the doctor despite being sick or injured for financial reasons.
Eliminating surprise billing has long been a priority for leaders of both parties. But it is now emerging as a key issue in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, as candidates and other leading Democrats make the case around the country for broader health care reform. Former Vice President Joe Biden invoked the need to end surprise billing in his victory speech on Super Tuesday.
As the issue comes into greater focus, prominent African-American leaders are urging candidates and lawmakers to find a solution that holds health insurers accountable for limited coverage networks and inadequate access to health insurance for minority communities – two forces, they say, that have helped create the surprise billing problem.
Addressing a group of Black ministers in South Carolina recently, Reverend Al Sharpton said solving health care issues disproportionately impacting communities of color must be atop the progressive agenda. Fixing the problem of surprise billing, Sharpton said, needs to go hand in hand with better protection of uninsured and underinsured populations.
Sharpton, who heads the National Action Network, an influential civil rights organization with roots in Harlem and chapters throughout the country, warned about a proposed bill in Congress that would potentially deepen the problem of costs being passed onto patients by giving insurers even more control over the prices they pay out-of-network doctors working in emergency hospital settings.
He said the proposed bill must be defeated because it fails to protect the underinsured and the uninsured. Dealing these specific policies that affect the disadvantaged is what is necessary in the 2020 election, Sharpton said in a recent speech at the Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, S.C., according to the Post and Courier.
Sharpton referred to a current bill before Congress aimed at addressing a practice known as “surprise billing,” which leaves patients on the hook for medical expenses even if they have insurance. The legislation needs to be defeated and replaced with something that would protect the underinsured and those with no insurance at all, he said,
describing it as one of those “issues that’s for the good of the people.”
Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and former Executive Director of the NAACP, directed even sharper criticism at insurance companies. In a piece published by Black Press USA, Chavis  derided insurance executives for putting profits above patients.
“This outrageous situation benefits one group and one group alone: powerful insurance executives, who have managed to get off the financial hook for such bills, even as insurers shrink insurance coverage networks to wring more and more profits out of the system,” Chavis wrote.
Chavis expressed strong opposition to any legislation that would give insurers more control over health care prices.
Experts say surprise medical billing is most common after emergency treatment on nonsurgical hospital visits, when doctors and specialists often work together in teams to provide the care patients need. For example, in the case of an emergency procedure, a patient’s primary surgeon might be in her insurance network, but other clinicians who assist the surgeon, such as the anesthesiologist, might be out of network. In certain instances, the patients are left to foot the bill for out-of-network services.
Doctors have said that years of harmful cost-cutting measures taken by insurers are to blame. Many patients have been unwittingly pushed into highly restricted and increasingly narrow coverage networks, they say, leaving them with unanticipated costs insurers refuse to cover in full or at all. Doctors say insurance companies should be required to pay fair out-of-network rates, as determined by an independent arbitrator, for emergency care.
Insurers vehemently oppose that approach, instead calling for new rules that would enable them
to limit how much they pay for emergency care provided by physicians who do not contract with them. They favor a system in which they would automatically pay median in-network rates for out-of-network services.
The dispute between doctors and insurers reached a boiling point last year, when it appeared that insurers were going to get their way. A bill modeled on legislation passed in California in 2016 would have put in place the type of benchmarking system insurance companies want.
Doctors and hospitals, for their part, raised concerns about ceding too much power to insurers to control rates. If only required to pay median in-network rates for out-of-network emergency services, the doctors and hospitals said, insurers could artificially drive down those rates by further restricting coverage networks.
Apparently, those concerns were shared by at least some members of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reported to have expressed serious concerns in private, saying “we are not going to give a handout to big insurance companies.” The bill was ultimately defeated.
Now, as Congress returns to the issue early into the 2020 legislative session, it appears as though the debate could be layered into a larger conversation among progressives about the future of the nation’s health care system.
The insistence of influential Black leaders that surprise bills are a symptom of a coverage accessibility problem for communities of color seems to open up a new front for Democrats looking to curtail the power of major insurance companies.

Newswire : Congressman Elijah Cummings dies at 68

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Cong. Elijah Cummings


The Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and a titan of the U.S. Congress, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7), died early Thursday morning. He was 68.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman’s wife and chairman of the Maryland Democratic Committee, said Cummings died at 2:45 a.m. at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Mrs. Cummings said her husband’s death resulted from complications concerning longstanding health challenges.
Recently, and in increasingly rare sightings of the congressman, Cummings was seen using a walker. He underwent an undisclosed medical procedure, and his office expected that he would only miss about one week of work.
“He was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion, and humility,” Mrs. Cummings said.
Cummings obtained his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Howard University, serving as Student Government President and graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.
The recipient of 13 honorary doctoral degrees, Cummings dedicated his life of service to uplifting and empowering the people he was sworn to represent, according to his biography.
He began his career in public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years, becoming the first African American in Maryland history to ascend to the position of Speaker Pro Tem.
Since 1996, Cummings has represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cummings was committed to ensuring that the next generation has access to quality healthcare and education, clean air and water, and a strong economy defined by fiscal responsibility. Children “are the living messages that we send to a future we will never see,” he often said.
In addition to the contributions he made to improve the lives of all Americans, the congressman was a passionate advocate for his beloved Baltimore, where he was born and raised.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump disparaged the city – particularly parts of Cummings’ district — labeling the city as a “rodent-infested mess where no human being would want to live.”
Cummings immediately responded: “Those in the highest levels of government must stop making hateful, incendiary comments that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.”
“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings added.
“He was a champion of the people, a soldier and a warrior for his city, the state, and the nation,” said Baltimore Times Publisher Joy Bramble. “Elijah Cummings made Baltimore and all of those who came across better.” The congressman told a local reporter that he and Trump had just one face-to-face conversation since the president took office in 2016.
“I said, ‘Mr. President, you’re now 70-something, I’m 60-something. Very soon, you and I will be dancing with the angels. The thing that you and I need to do is figure out what we can do – what present can we bring to generations unborn?”
His last act in Congress came on Oct. 8, when he joined three others from a bipartisan group to introduce legislation called “The Family Asthma Act.” The bill seeks to expand federal, state, and local efforts to improve care for individuals with asthma.
“Long live the freedom-fighting spirit of Brother Leader Congressman Elijah Cummings,” National Newspaper Publishers Association President, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., said. “On behalf of the Black Press of America, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Cummings and to the Cummings family.

Newswire : Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and the NNPA call for Congress to address disparities in Federal ad spending

By Stacy M. Brown (NNPA Newswire Contributor

 

Longtime D.C. delegate Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton said that she would work with the NNPA and the NAHP to pressure Congress to demand greater federal adverting spending with minority-owned publishers. This photo was taken during a congressional panel discussion on judicial diversity on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

Eleanor Holmes Norton

In a blistering response to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that revealed federal agencies spend very little advertising dollars with minority-owned businesses, D.C. Democratic Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said that she would work with minority publishers to press her colleagues in Congress “to demand greater spending on minority-owned outlets…to reach minority audiences that most traditional outlets do not.” Holmes Norton said that she requested the GAO report to learn more about the disparities in federal advertising contracts. “[The GAO report] showed, as we expected, that the federal government has a long way to go to ensure equal opportunities for minority-owned news outlets,” Holmes Norton said. “As the nation’s largest advertiser, the federal government has an obligation to provide advertising opportunities to news outlets and media companies owned or published by people of color.” The 41-page report issued, last week, revealed that over the past five fiscal years, federal government agencies spent $5 billion in advertising, but just $327 million of that went to minority-owned businesses. Black-owned businesses netted just $51 million—about $10 million per year over the five years covered in the new report. Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association President (NNPA), thanked Holmes Norton for her support. The NNPA is a trade group that represents more than 200 Black-owned media companies and newspapers that reach 20 million readers, combined, in print and online, every week. More than two years ago, Holmes Norton joined members of the NNPA and the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) for a press conference on Capitol Hill, to demand the report, which was issued last week. Dorothy Leavell, the chairman of the NNPA and publisher of the Crusader newspapers in Chicago and Gary, Ind., called the results of the report shameful. Leavell added that she would call for legislation to address the disparities; she also said that she plans on requesting meetings with members of Congress to further explore the matter. In an interview, last week, Dr. Chavis called on Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus “to forcefully raise their voices of discontent and reaffirmation of the demands for equity, for justice, for fairness and end to this kind of systemic refusal to treat African American-owned and Latino-owned businesses along with others in a just, fair and equitable manner.” Dr. Chavis added that the report exposed the consequences of systemic racial discrimination in both Republican and Democratic administrations when it comes to federal advertising spending. Dr. Chavis continued: “It’s time for all of us to respond and to act. There should be legislation introduced in Congress immediately to rectify this gross systemic inequity This article was originally published at BlackPressUSA.com.