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Leon County DOH reports alarming racial disparities in coronavirus

Posted at 11:09 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 23:09:57-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — We're taking a closer look at the impact COVID-19 is having on racial demographics in Leon County as the number of coronavirus cases continue to grow.

"We've got to be aggressive because this thing is killing us," said Leon County commissioner Bill Proctor. "It's a killer."

Proctor is calling for more to be done for African Americans as the war on the coronavirus continues.

At Tuesday's commission meeting the Leon County Department of Health revealed shocking numbers, a pattern seen across the country.

"Forty-seven percent of those diagnosed (in the county) are black," Proctor said.

We have seen an increase in cases in the black population from 29 percent on April 14th to 50 percent today.
Leon County Department of Health

African Americans in Leon County make up 32 percent of the population.

Proctor says making sure the community is aware of the dangers and has access to safety equipment is the first step in the war on COVID-19.

"We need to walk the streets, and give out masks, and get a boots on the ground campaign going," said Proctor.

Racial disparities within the black community take a toll as the virus spreads.

According to the CDC economic evaluation, living and underlying health conditions play a part in who is susceptible to this virus.

With more testing happening in these communities the numbers of cases are expected to grow.

Over 4,000 people have been tested at the FAMU testing site.

The county's Department of Health says testing there could be a reason for the spike in positive results.

This expanded testing at Bragg Memorial Stadium may be part of the reason we are seeing an increase in patients among blacks.
Leon County Department of Health

Now leaders are trying to keep flattening the curve as the state slowly reopens.

"For some reason, about this disease in city after city, the African American community is overrepresented," said Proctor. "And here again we are."

Testing centers like the FAMU site are in areas where people have limited access to testing.

The county's Department of Health says sites like that are apart of the governor's efforts to reach under-served populations.

The Department of Health in Leon County also say we may be in for an uptick in cases as universities come back for the fall session as well.