Fighting disparities in COVID spread, NAACP hands out masks to communities of color

The racial disparities in the coronavirus pandemic fall heavily onto communities of color. Black residents, for example, make up 13% of Long Beach’s population, but account for about 21% of hospitalizations for coronavirus.

The Long Beach branch of the NAACP wanted to do something about it.

On Thursday, the organization disseminated hundreds of masks at the New Hope Homes Senior Housing facility and the Carmelitos Senior Housing Project. Additionally, masks will be mailed to seniors, frontline workers, nursing students, persons living in buildings impacted by the virus, and to people that requested masks online. Joining in to help, St. Mary Medical Center sent over an entire truckload of masks and gloves.

“I believe it is important that individuals and organizations not only work during this coronavirus crisis but take every opportunity that we can to be a part of dialogues and solutions,” said branch President Naomi Rainey-Pierson. “The NAACP promotes the principle that everyone can make a contribution regardless of race, creed or color to make our society better. We should all work hard to promote equality and justice for all citizens.”

Naomi Rainey-Pierson, President of the Long Beach branch NAACP right, hands Adrienne Albert a box of gloves and mask as members of the Long Beach chapter pass out mask, gloves and face shields in front and to the residents of the New Hope Home an assisted living facility in Long Beach Thursday, April 30, 2020. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Rainey-Pierson pointed out that coronavirus has fallen disproportionately hard upon African-Americans and Latinos, compounded by the fact that many people of color lack health insurance and are a large part of the essential workforce, from grocery stores to healthcare to delivery workers, many face dangers daily.

On top of offering masks to those that need them, the organization has also created a virtual tutoring program for low-income students offered through the NAACP’s college members. The program has received 2,000 requests, highlighting the need for education to continue amid shelter-in-place orders.

To make a donation to the Long Beach Branch NAACP’s mask dissemination project and virtual tutoring services for low-income students contact the branch by e-mailing at [email protected] or call (562)856-7586.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.