According to various news sources and social media posts, African American COVID-19 fatalities are starting to mount and more Black people are self-isolating as they recover from life-threatening to minor bouts with the Coronavirus.
While farfetched, the early rumors of Black immunity to the COVID-19 virus gave some African Americans a fantastical hope. After all of the historical sacrifices and fights for equality, perhaps Blacks felt due to catch a break. But the reality is that African Americans are just as, if not more, vulnerable to this serious and deadly virus. Those with life-threatening health issues, or even livable challenges like hypertension and diabetes, are high-risk and vulnerable to the wrath of the Coronavirus.
Even with recent positive tests of Black NBA players and celebrities, for most in urban communities, the virus felt distanced. But, with schools and businesses closing, cities on lockdown, and everyday people being diagnosed, the virus has become real and the doubters are beginning to fathom the magnitude of this life-threatening pandemic.
Omega Psi Phi, a predominately African American fraternity, recently reported on its website that fellow member, Larry Edgeworth, 61, an award-winning technician and audio engineer for NBC News and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity member, died after testing positive for the coronavirus.
According to an NBC executive, Edgeworth had worked 25 years out of NBC’s Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. His wife, Crystal, said Edgeworth suffered from other health issues that made him vulnerable to the virus.
Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, was quoted in the Undefeated, voicing his concern that African Americans need to take COVID-19 seriously.
“We get a lot of misinformation circulating through our communities,” Benjamin said. “I think the biggest challenge is the fact that people of color, African Americans, start out with health outcomes that are disproportionately poor when compared to White Americans.
“The highest risk, if you get this disease, is to someone 60 or older with chronic disease. With African Americans, you start with a population that is disproportionately sicker, and if it gets exposed, it will have a higher death rate.”
Toni Seawright, 55, an actress and single mother of two boys in New York City, went live on Facebook, sharing her experience of having been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“I’m here to dispel the myth the Black people don’t get Coronavirus. That’s a lie! I’m Black and my children are Black,” she said. According to Seawright, who is quarantined at home with her sons and two friends, she thinks “I was probably exposed when going on an interview in the city, finding myself in a room with six other women while I waited.”
The next day, Seawright felt something coming on, but felt she didn’t have the commonly known symptoms for the COVID-19 virus. “There was no dry cough … there was no sneezing,” she said.
But, by the next morning, she described the pain emitting from the back of her eyes, along with chills, a post nasal drip and slight cough. Still, Seawright didn’t think anything of it until one of her sons developed similar symptoms and a fever. She had a sudden, unsettling feeling that they might have been exposed.
“I knew we had been exposed to the coronavirus because I don’t get sick and [my son] doesn’t either,” she said. Though urgent care offers a limited amount of tests, Seawright’s age and prior health challenges made her ineligible for the test. However, after she showed negative results for the regular flu, she was then tested for COVID-19.
Seawright was told the results would take five-to-seven days, but on day three, she received multiple messages and felt a positive status was imminent. She was given the news on the phone.
“I was like….wow! Then there was silence … she don’t say nothing and I’m just holding the phone.” Once over the initial shock, she asked questions. The nurse directed Seawright and anyone possibly exposed to stay home under a 14-day quarantine and recommended the procedures to get better.
Actor Idriss Elba was diagnosed along with his wife, Sabrina Dhowre Elba. Both are quarantined after having been exposed to COVID-9. On Essence’ Facebook Watch, Elba expressed his concern about ongoing myths regarding the virus. “My people, Black people. Please, please, please understand. Coronavirus … you can get it.
“There are so many stupid, ridiculous conspiracy theories about Black people not being able to get it … that is the quickest way to get more Black people killed,” he said. “As a Black person who has contracted this virus, it needs to be said …”
Kevin Harris, 55, out of Warren County, Ohio says he nearly died from COVID-19. He spoke about his experience on local news station HLN and Facebook Live, saying he barely made it during his bout with the virus. Harris says although he works out daily, is in excellent health, maintains a strong workout regimen and strong immune system, the virus nearly killed him and made him feel as though he was suffocating on land. “It started turning my lungs to glass. The more I rested, the sicker I got,” he said. Harris found himself with doctors who were in unchartered territory, with little resources to help him; he didn’t not think he would live but has pulled through and is expected to recover. “I’m just happy I’m not going to die, because I thought I was going to die.”
Harris says he is proud of not infecting his family and fellow community members. “I wouldn’t let anyone inside my house. Not even my kids or employees, he said. “I told them you don’t want what I have.”
Seawright has been going live on Facebook to provide information to anyone who is interested is sharing her experience. She says it has been touch and go with her family’s COVID-19 ordeal. She complains of still having headaches and having to constantly check everyone’s temperature.
“This virus is no joke … our breathing is much better. We’re still doing our protocol. We’re not going to stop,” said Seawright. She and her boys expect to fully recover due to their diligence and faith.
Although the humorous memes and gifs provide levity, as the victims increase, people’s reality become sobering. Aaron A. Woodard lV, from New York, posted on his Facebook timeline, “My wife said to me last night that COVID-19 won’t be real for some people until they lose someone. Well, today I lost someone to this virus!” Woodward wrote. “I loved this man almost as much as I love my Dad. Uncle Charles was a pivotal figure in my life!” Woodard didn’t know his uncle’s exact age but says he was over 75 years of age.
Until health problems and deaths become pertinent, indifference and carelessness will only fuel the pandemic in the Black community. The CDC recommends washing your hands and to maintain a 6 feet away from people regimen as much as possible. But most importantly, take the Coronavirus seriously.
In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Covered California will enroll anyone uninsured and eligible for health coverage in their health plans through June 30. In addition, the California Department of Health Care Services announced new steps to help those eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal health plans sign up easily and get immediate coverage. Medi-Cal enrollment is year round.
Covered California also assured the state’s consumers that all medically-necessary screening and testing for COVID-19 are free of charge, and that all health plans available through Covered California and Medi-Cal are offering tele-health options to minimize in-person medical visits at this time.
These actions build upon Covered California’s Special Enrollment Period, which took effect in January 2020, to help consumers who didn’t know about tax penalties for not having health insurance, or weren’t aware of the new state subsidy program and financial help available to pay their monthly health care costs.
Those interested in enrolling in Covered California or Medi-Cal health plans can:
• Visit www.CoveredCA.com.
• Get free and confidential assistance over the phone, in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller.
• Have a certified enroller call them and help them for free.
• Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.
Toni Seacrest and her boys wanted to share a pervious performance from their home to uplift the spirits of all people.