Community leaders address COVID-19 and the black community

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WACO, Texas – Leaders across McLennan County held a virtual town hall addressing the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the black community.

People of color so far account for two of every three COVID-19-related death in McLennan County.

The communities leaders spear-heading the webinar Thursday night say if this stat doesn’t hit close to home for anyone, it hits close to home for them.

According to Waco-McLennan County Public Health District’s stats, blacks make up a third of COVID-19 deaths in the county – a stat many find shocking.

“It sucks. And it’s scary, I guess,” one person said.

“That’s kind of bad. Yea, that’s bad,” said another.

The most recent report shows that five of 15 COVID-19-related deaths were African-American, seven were Hispanic and three were Caucasian.

Phillip Perry, the late principal of G.W. Carver Middle School in Waco, was the first coronavirus death county-wide back in late March – and Thursday, more than three months later, an African-American woman’s life was cut short by complications with the virus.

“We had our 15th death today, and that African-American woman was 41 years old. If it doesn’t hit home to anybody, it hits home to me,” said Waco Councilwoman Andrea Barefield.

It hit home so much so that she and leaders across the community set up a virtual town hall to discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on the black community and address some of the elements that put the specific group at risk.

“The deaths around black and brown communities are higher across the country than they are in Anglo. That’s pre-existing conditions. That’s economic deterrence. There are so many things that impact the level of how and why people have access to healthcare and all of things are compounded in black and brown communities,” she said.

She says it was important to get information out to people through trusted and established voices in the community like herself and McLennan County Commissioner Patricia Miller and NAACP President Dr. Peaches Henry since the virus is spreading throughout Waco and McLennan county at an alarming rate.

At last check there were more than 2,000 active cases.

“I want them to have more information. I want them to know where resources are. I want them to know that we are not going to stop speaking to the needs of our communities, making sure our communities have as much information as they can get,” said Barefield.

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