NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – The numbers show how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the African American community, so researchers at some local universities are working with the National Institutes of Health to reach out to blacks about the virus, concerns about vaccines and address misperceptions, including those about healthcare in general. As part of that, Tulane University has been awarded a $1 million grant from the NIH to engage vulnerable communities hard hit by the virus.

Dr. M. Tonette Krousel-Wood, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Tulane University in New Orleans is a principal investigator for the outreach initiative. She said the goal is to gather the community’s perspective and to provide accurate information about the virus.

“There are misperceptions and misunderstandings around COVID-19 and to address these and build hand-in-hand with our community a HALT COVID in Louisiana Education Program to address these concerns,” said Krousel-Wood.

Dr. Daniel Sarpong, Xavier University’s Director of the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education is the other principal investigator for the initiative.

He said a big part of the effort includes listening to the community’s views on COVID-19.

“And learn what the community is saying to us and then develop a program, an educational program that is palatable, that community sees itself in it,” said Sarpong.