COVID-19 affecting African-Americans disproportionately


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — As the number of coronavirus cases rise nationally and in Kentucky a troubling trend has emerged.

A disproportionate number of African-Americans are getting the virus.

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Lexington’s health department invited community leaders to talk about the trend, theories as to why it’s happening and what can be done about it.

The health department says African-Americans make up 15% of the city’s population, yet 28% of the 183 confirmed COVID-19 cases are African-Americans.

That kind of disparity is being seen across the country.

“We don’t have the answers to why that’s happening but we want to have that conversation,” says Kevin Hall, communications director for Lexington-Fayette Health Department.

So the health department talked with African-American community leaders about the issue and why they think the numbers are so high.

“Due to the economic instability, the gatherings, probably not being informed correctly,” says Pastor Keith Tyler, president of Lexington’s Interdenominational Pastoral Fellowship.

“Anticipation of experiencing prejudice and stigma from health care providers is part of the reasons African-Americans are less likely to access care,” says Kacy Allen-Bryant, Board of Health Chair.

“I know as a single father who was in poverty for a long time, I know it was my living conditions that kept me from the doctor’s office,” says community activist Devine Carama.

Bryant described the culture as a social one.

“We very much believe in ‘it takes a village’ and we’re used to having grandparents, aunties, uncles, godparents, I mean we involve everybody in the rearing of our children,” says Bryant.

Another possible cause is not having the space to social distance.

“Many of us are on top of each other already. Many of us are just trying to survive,” says Pastor Tyler.

Community activist Devine Carama says there’s a lot of disproportionate numbers in the black community that need to be considered when looking for reasons.

“You gotta start looking at the disproportionate amount of African-Americans going to jail, you gotta start looking at jobs and employment, educational opportunities,” says Carama.

Pastor Tyler thinks being misinformed is a big factor and as an answer for that he says we need to get this information out on all platforms and places, including in the governor and mayor’s briefings.

“We need to be more so mindful of why or how if not both blacks are escalating, what is causing this escalation?” says Tyler.

There’s no one reason or answer but the group hopes continuing this dialogue is a good start.

“We will get through this. We as a people have been through far worse,” says Bryant.

For more information on COVID-19 cases in Lexington, click here.