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How COVID-19 is impacting black people disproportionately

How COVID-19 is impacting black people disproportionately
We’re looking at how the pandemic is affecting diverse communities economically and medically. And this morning we’re focusing on disparities in particular in healthcare. As coronavirus cases spike in much of the country, rates of infection, hospitalizations, and deaths are higher for minorities. Black Americans make up 13% of the US population, but account for 23% of coronavirus deaths. Dr. John LaPook takes us to Minneapolis to show what is behind these statistics. (SINGING) We love you. There ain’t a thing you can do about that. At Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Pastor Albert Gallmon is preaching the gospel and COVID-19 prevention. Whether you have symptoms are no symptoms, you need to get tested.
While worshipping remotely, he’s stressing the importance of masks, testing, and practicing what he preaches, social distancing. In the black community, the church has always been the place where we disseminate information. People may not listen to politicians or to public health officials, but how about to their pastor? Yeah, well part of it is just relationship. I mean, they know their pastor, right? Kirsten and Charles Nixon are two of pastor Gallmon’s parishioners. In May, their entire family tested positive for coronavirus. Your husband, you, your three boys, your mother, and your father? Yes. We’ve been living with the fear of this. I was having a conversation with one my white neighbours.
We were in our backyard talking, and I was trying to practise social distancing and he wasn’t really understanding it. And I said to him that he needed to understand that this disease hits Black people a lot harder than it hits white people. One reason is that when compared to white Americans, Black Americans have higher rates of chronic medical conditions linked to poor outcomes from COVID-19. 54% have hypertension, nearly 50% are obese, and more than 13% have diabetes. Do either of you have underlying conditions? I have pre-diabetes. My parents have high blood pressure and diabetes. Kirsten Nixon’s 86-year-old father is still hospitalised with complications of COVID-19. The rest of the family had mild to moderate symptoms, but are now doing well.
Across Minnesota, black people account for over 21% of reported cases, but only make up 6% of the state’s population. That disparity is echoed across the country. I think people are now paying attention to what’s called health equity. James Burrows leads health equity efforts at Children’s Minnesota Hospital. He worked with the state health department to open four coronavirus testing clinics in communities of colour. We want to make sure that those communities are tested more often, and not only tested, realise that you can get access to healthcare. In 2017, more than 10% of Black Americans were uninsured, compared to roughly 6% of white Americans. Leandris Liburd is Chief Health Equity Officer for the CDC’s coronavirus response.
She says the epidemic has highlighted how certain jobs can increase the risk of infection. There are more people of colour who are overrepresented in essential and frontline work, which means that they don’t have the same opportunity to telework. Pastor Gallmon says he’s eager to get back to delivering his messages the way he used to. That will help us heal over both the George Floyd situation and the COVID, because then we can come together, we can cry, we can laugh, we can do that together.
And Dr. John LaPook joins us now. Dr. LaPook, good morning. Those pictures really remind us what congregating looks like and how long it’s been since we’ve been able to do so. What’s the impact been on that community of not being able to get together in person as a church? It’s been huge, and good morning Tony. You know, Pastor Gallmon said that he wants to be able to hug people again. It’s a time for fellowship. And something he said really struck home for me. He said especially the elderly people in his congregation, Sunday may be the only time when they come to church when they actually leave their homes. You know, they get all gussied up.
They get dressed up in their church best, and then they’re able to congregate with each other and talk to each other. We know that isolation is very bad for your health. In fact, it increases the risk of dementia. So there’s only a certain amount you can get from a Zoom congregation. I know, I know. John, I look forward to seeing you in person someday soon too, as well. Thank you very much.

Reflecting on the video

The video discusses the disproportionate impact of the virus on black communities in the USA. In your country, do you believe the same is true?

You may live in a country where black people are the majority. Does the information in the video also give you cause for concern?

Commentators say that the pandemic has simply exposed inequalities that were already present in many societies. Do you think this is so?

The video was made in Minneapolis USA, the same city in which George Floyd was murdered by the police, triggering the Black Lives Matter movement. In the next step we look at the possible connection between the pandemic and BLM.

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