May 8, 2020

The Honorable Chuck Schumer

Senate Minority Leader

322 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Minority Leader Schumer:

The World community is experiencing a pandemic that many have never seen before – a pandemic that affects every person, in every country, that has the capacity to breathe.

I am the Chief Executive that represents thousands of men, both college Brothers and Alumni professionals, spanning every profession that contributes to what makes the fabric of our democracy stronger and stronger every day.  Since the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has made its way to the shores of the United States of America, it has been nothing less than relentless in is pursuit to sicken our citizens and in some cases, kill our fellow Americans.

As the General President and proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., I as well as my Brothers would like to add our deep concern that the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 seems to have a higher mortality rate among African Americans than any other race in this country, and not surprisingly, there are reasons why this is the case.

Early data from China, where the new Coronavirus COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of serious health complications from this virus.  Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this includes people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Here is what we know – Coronavirus COVID-19 is causing an inflammatory process in the body that impairs clotting in bleeding. The impact on the lungs is causing difficulty with air getting in and out of the lungs. The inability for anyone to get sufficient air into the lungs will cause acute respiratory distress and high mortality (death) rates. This issue also impacts other organs in the body, causing persons with other medical issues to be at increased risk. At this time, we do not know the long-term impact on the lungs or other organ systems.

Since the inception of this pandemic on American shores, we’ve continued to learn that the Coronavirus COVID-19 flourishes among those individuals who have other pre-existing medical conditions, as mentioned above.  Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke are the leading causes of deaths among African Americans in the United States.  In fact, African Americans between the age 18-49 are 2 times more likely to die of heart disease than whites; and African Americans, ages 35-64 are 50% more likely to have high blood pressure than whites (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Additionally, recent peer-reviewed journal articles discuss the pathogenesis of the Coronavirus COVID-19 virus.  What is strongly suggested is a Coronavirus COVID-19-induced coagulopathy is similar to Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC).  This pathologic disorder is known to have high mortality rate in its acute phase.  DIC is rapidly fatal with the aforementioned comorbidities and is exacerbated by the rapid pulmonary distress brought on by this virus.  Because this virus remains novel, studies related to long-term pulmonary injury and alveolar function are needed to show the median survivability and overall quality of life for persons who contract this virus.

As you have seen from recent new reports, early data from some States have shown some very alarming and frightening statistics that should be addressed as we find ways to overcome this deadly virus.  For example, the State of Louisiana is made up of 32% African Americans, but have a mortality rate of 70%; the State of Michigan is made up of 14% African Americans, but have a mortality rate of 52%.  I could overwhelm you with recent data, but the trends have all demonstrated one fundamental fact – African Americans are dying at a higher rate from the Coronavirus COVID-19 than other race in Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, South Carolina, Maryland, Philadelphia, District of Columbia and North Carolina.

I will acknowledge that most States are deploying needed help to quell the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19, but there are underlying challenges at bay that must be addressed and resources put towards in order to prevent future blows from any other deadly disease, as well as addressing the health challenges among African Americans throughout the country.

I strongly believe that if we address some of these underlying health challenges among African Americans (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and mental health) through legislation, it will reduce future mortality, and it will further reduce our community need to feel as though the Government aren’t paying attention to the plight that is affecting their families.

Mr. Schumer, we are on the precipice of the greatest challenge of our lifetime, and I strongly encourage you to stand with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and address the challenges of the day, which must include a healthier citizenry that will continue to add value to the fabric of American democracy.  My team and I are eager and willing to meet with you and your staff to further address these issues, as we care for the sick and mourn the death of our fellow neighbors who have succumb to the Coronavirus COVID-19.

Thank you for your consideration and look forward to your reply.


Everett B. Ward, Ph.D.

General President


Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. National Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force:

  1. William J. Bennett, MD, PhD – Pathologist, George Washington University School of Medicine,
    Novocure, Inc., Atlanta, GA
  2. Charles Alvin Cook, MD, MPH – Internal Medicine and Nephrology, Raleigh Associated
    Medical Specialists, Raleigh, NC
  3. Duane Dyson, MD – Owner, Dyson Pediatrics of Tucson, AZ
  4. Clifford Houston, PhD, MS – First African American elected as president of the
    American Society for Microbiology; Former Member, U.S Department of Health and Human
    Services, National Advisory Board for Bio-Security, Galveston, TX
  5. Joseph Gambrell, MD – Retired Pediatrician, Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Bellflower,
  6. Napoleon B. Higgins, Jr., MD, Psychiatrist, CEO and President of Bay Pointe Behavioral
    Health Service, Inc., and South East Houston Research Group, Inc. Houston, TX
  7. Lane Knight, DDS – Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Southern Maryland Oral &
    Maxillofacial Surgery, Waldorf, MD
  8. Kelvin A. Moses, MD, PhD – Associate Professor of Urology, Vanderbilt University
    Medical Center, Nashville, TN
  9. Otha Myles, MD, Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine, Otha Myles &
    Associates, LLC, Saint Louis, MO
  10. Ronald “Pepper” Peters, Jr. DrPH, MS – Retired Associate Professor of Health
    Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston,
  11. Richard D. Smith, MD – Lead Partner, St. Francis Primary Care Clinic – Smith Medical
    Office, Monroe, LA
  12. Brother Covia L. Stanley, MD – Former Regional Health Director, Region 6, South Carolina
    Department of Health & Environmental Control; Former Health Director, City of Richmond,
    VA, Conway, SC
  13. Leonce H. Thierry, Jr., Jr., MS, MT (ASCP), CHES – Clinical Assistant Professor of
    Clinical Laboratory Services, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX