71 percent of coronavirus deaths in Shelby County are minorities, officials say

WATCH: 71 percent of coronavirus deaths in Shelby County are minorities, officials say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Data doesn’t often lie but new figures from the Shelby County Health Department present a disturbing picture about how COVID-19 impacts the black community.

As feared, the pandemic is taking a disproportionate toll on African Americans with life preexisting medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

According to the Shelby County Health Department data, 71 percent of all COVID-19 deaths are people of color.

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“This virus does not care how old we are. it doesn’t care what our racial makeup or ethnicity may be. We are all very much at risk,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph of the Shelby County Health Department.

Many of the victims were infected with dangerous preexisting medical conditions.

“83 percent of the individuals who died had some sort of heart problem or high blood pressure,” said David Sweat of the Shelby County Health Department.

FOX13 found data from the Mississippi Department of Health that presented an equally chilling picture of a disproportionate number of African Americans lost to COVID-19 in that state.

Again, preexisting medical conditions believed to be a factor.

“I am not satisfied with the response at the press conference about preexisting conditions,” said Reverend Earl Fisher of Up the Vote 901.

Fisher pushed for the Shelby County Health Department for data to include race weeks ago.

He told FOX13 the medical challenges of preexisting conditions in the black community come from years of poverty, low paying jobs without health benefits and inadequate housing.

“So for me, governmental response to disproportionate impact has to be more than just increasing the burden of social responsibility,” said Fisher who welcomed the need for mobile testing in communities where transportation is an issue.

He wanted race to be included in the data for who is tested so the medical professionals can better grasp how to stem the pandemic across all communities.

“Lives are in the balance and we don’t have time to keep kicking the can down the road,” Fisher said.

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