The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has upset almost every aspect of our daily routine — even our Sunday services and Wednesday Bible study here at Fellowship Bible Baptist Church. We are, however, fortunate to have a proven leader in Pastor Tolan Morgan who decided to transition to online services before the edict was handed down by local and state officials that gatherings of more than 10 people were prohibited.
That was an important step. Our congregation is largely African American and because of underlying health issues pervasive in our communities, our members may be more at risk. Dr. Oliver T. Brooks, who serves as the 120th President of the National Medical Association and the Chief Medical Officer of Watts HealthCare Corporation said, blacks “Are 2.2 times more likely to have diabetes, 20 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, and 30 percent more likely to be obese. The incidence of COPD (lung disease) in our women is 34 percent higher than in white women. Bottom line: if we acquire the virus, bad things are more likely to happen.”
And while shelter-in-place orders have been instituted, many of the occupations — bus drivers, first responders, postal workers, public works, Amazon and the military are essential services and those people, many of them African Americans, have to work. To put it bluntly, while America claims to be the “land of the free and home to the brave,” we are actually the home of “the haves and have nots.”
According to the Brookings Institution, “A close examination of wealth in the U.S. finds evidence of staggering racial disparities. At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly 10 times greater than that of a black family ($17,150) in 2016.”
“The black-white health gap reflects a society that has not and does not afford equality of opportunity to all its citizens,” said Dr. Brooks. And now there is evidence that the black community is suffering more fatalities from COVID-19 in proportion to the size of their communities.
For example, the Washington Post reported that in Milwaukee County, home to Wisconsin’s largest city, blacks make up 26 percent of the population, but 70 percent of the deaths to COVID-19. In Louisiana, blacks comprise 32 percent of the population, but 70 percent of virus deaths in the state. The same disparity is evident in Detroit, Michigan where blacks make up 79 percent of the population and in Chicago, Illinois, where black residents are dying at a rate six times that of white residents. Georgia and many other states haven’t released demographic data beyond age, gender and location, if they have collected it at all. The old saw “When the country catches a cold, the black community gets pneumonia,” is more accurate than ever.
What can FBBC do? Following the directions of our pastor to adhere to the “shelter-in-place” orders, wash your hands and wear a mask if you must go out in public. FBBC is doing what it can to reach out to members and even non-members during this time. FBBC has established protocols for deacons to contact the families they serve. It is important for all members to communicate with their deacons and express any concerns and difficulties they may be experiencing.
It is also important for neighbors to watch out for each other, particularly the elderly. Check in with them on a daily basis, and while contact is prohibited, we can still ask if they need anything — and if they do — we can leave it on their porch. Also contact members of your far-flung family to see if they are OK. To see how the COVID-19 virus may be impacting other areas of the country go to www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html where you can find data down to the county level in every area in the nation.
Watch the weekly church services on any one of the platforms the FBBC employs: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and FBBC’s website at fbbchome.org. Remember, while the building is closed the church is open. As Pastor Morgan has stressed, “God Got This.”
Written by Charles E. Richardson