The Black community has suffered disproportionately from the pandemic. From the number of deaths to the lack of testing and resources to the closing of businesses from lack of assistance from the Payroll Protection Program, African-Americans are paying a heavy price. Black churches have also suffered great losses that will be felt for many years to come.
A recent ABC News analysis of coronavirus deaths found that many African American faith leaders have lost their lives. At least 33 African American bishops, reverends and pastors of varying denominations around the U.S. have died from the coronavirus. Those numbers include: seven church leaders in Michigan (including two from the same church), seven in Louisiana, six in New York, three in Illinois, two in Mississippi, two in Georgia, two in New Jersey, one in Virginia, one in Tennessee, one in Alabama and one in Missouri.
The Church of God in Christ (COGIC), which serves over 10,000 congregations worldwide, is the largest black Pentecostal denomination in the country. It lost seven bishops to COVID-19. In New York, at least six African American clergy leaders have died from the virus, leaving gaping holes in the church leadership and their surrounding communities.
“It’s sorrowful to lose one of our leaders,” said Charles E. Blake, the presiding bishop of the Los Angeles-based COGIC in an interview with ABC News. “One bishop lost to this disease is one bishop too many… the sorrow you can never get use to, the loss you can never get accustomed to that, but not being able to mourn and to even celebrate the lives of those who I’ve known and loved that is difficult also.”
Long-term care centers serving mostly minority populations are bearing the brunt of the impact of COVID-10, researchers say. These vulnerable facilities are twice as likely to experience a deadly coronavirus outbreak as those with mostly white residents. The disparity in nursing homes is similar to a national trend of minorities dying more from coronavirus than any other ethnic group.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Blacks and Latinos, who largely depend on Medicaid to pay for their care, make up about a quarter of the nation’s nursing home population. Medicaid-funded facilities are often cited for having a lower quality of care and fewer staff to care for residents.
An analysis by Columbia University finds that the impact of the pandemic could have been sharply reduced if action had been taken sooner. The study shows that 36,000 lives could have been saved if social distancing restrictions were put in place one week earlier. In addition, at least 700,000 fewer infections could have been avoided if action was taken on March 8 instead of March 15.
According to a new poll conducted by Reuters, one quarter of Americans have little or no interest in taking a coronavirus vaccine. Many respondents are concerned that the speed at which a possible vaccine is being developed could be unsafe. Thirty-six percent of respondents say that, because of their mistrust of the current administration’s handling of the pandemic, they would be less willing to take a vaccine if Trump said it was safe. Half of black Americans said they were somewhat or very interested in a vaccine, while more than 40% of college-educated white women said Trump’s reassurance of a vaccine would make them less willing to take it.
As inmates across the country raise concerns over prison conditions during the pandemic, the Supreme Court and state courts prepare to see an increasing number of disputes in the coming weeks. Advocates believe the prison system is violating the constitutional rights of inmates by failing to provide resources and implement safety procedures to protect them against the coronavirus. Jails and prisons are experiencing alarming high numbers of COVID-19 cases among inmates and staff.
POLITICS & ECONOMY
Another 2.4 million people filed claims for unemployment last week, down 249,000 from the previous week. In the past nine weeks, a total 38.6 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment, creating the highest jobless rate since the Great Depression.
This week, the CDC released recommendations for reopening businesses, mass transit and schools across the country during the pandemic. However, guidance on reopening churches has been put on hold after a disagreement between the CDC and the White House. A senior administration official confirmed the disagreement, saying the White House is concerned that the CDC’s guidelines are too restrictive.
Many churches across the country have voiced concerns about a violation of their rights to worship without government interference.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending the firing of the state’s top data scientist, Rebekah Jones, who was dismissed from her position with the Department of Health on Monday. Jones says she was let go for refusing to manipulate data to support the state’s reopening. DeSantis’ office says Jones was fired for insubordination and modifying COVID-19 data without input or approval from her supervisors.