Conversations continue regarding Mecklenburg County’s black community and COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 14, 2020 at 11:15 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Of the nearly 1,000 cases of coronavirus in Mecklenburg County, about half of them are African Americans.

In response, on Tuesday night, the Harvey B. Gantt Center hosted an online meeting to discuss the disproportional impact COVID-19 is having on the community.

This virus looks differently for black people because the numbers show more blacks catching it and dying at a higher percentage than any other race. That’s why Novant and Atrium Health are setting up more testing sites to reach those communities in Mecklenburg County.

According to Mecklenburg County’s Manager Dena Diorio, they can’t trace how it’s spreading through the black community. This means there’s not been an outbreak due to a big gathering like a funeral or a party.

During the round table talk that also included Dr. Jerome Williams, the Senior Vice President of Community Engagement at Novant Health and Dr. Ricky Woods of First Baptist Church West, they talked about how there are many people in the black community who can’t afford to stay home to weigh this out.

It’s a demographic of workers who hold jobs at grocery stores, fast-food spots, or other essential jobs.

Dr. Williams spoke about what needs to be fixed in hospitals so all minorities aren’t scared to go to the hospital to get treatment.

“Diversity, inclusion, and equity needs to bake in throughout your system. When I say your system, the healthcare system. It’s very important to have cultural sensitivity. Not just in the African American community, but the Latin community, LGBT communities as well. So, throughout our organization, there is a very intentional strategic focus to bake diversity, inclusion, and equity in everything that we do,” Dr. Williams said.

What was interesting is the poll that was taken by the people who tuned in for the online meeting. It does not represent numbers for Mecklenburg County, but most of the people who voted are black.

Many said they feel the disproportionate numbers are because of a lack of access to healthcare in neighborhoods followed by the lack of correct information.

Mecklenburg County leaders have announced they are working on a tool kit to keep African Americans informed on how to protect themselves against the virus and what to look out for.

County Manager Diorio says officials are teaming up with black churches to help with this project because the church is typically a trusted source the county and community can count on.

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