Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin: Racism, oppression have contributed to COVID-19 demographic disparity

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Local advocates and elected officials, including Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin, spent Wednesday evening hosting a "Tele-Town Hall" meeting, answering questions regarding the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in Black communities.

The phone call meeting was hosted by Action NC and offered North Carolinians the chance to ask questions and hear what's being done to help those suffering physically or economically from this pandemic.

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"I think you have to be honest, and that's the main thing. You have to admit where we are and not to point fingers and blame but to have an action plan as to how we get out," Colvin said.

Tarsha Gunn, a Cumberland County resident, was invited to speak and share her experience of dealing with congestive heart failure and lacking Medicaid.

"As we're making the bills, please remember, that we're humans, and we need the help. It's not that we want the help, but we actually need this help," Gunn said.

In addition to having an underlying health problem, Gunn is also a Black woman, which means, based on recent state health numbers, she's more likely to succumb to the virus.

Some of the latest numbers from NCDHHS show that the Black community only makes up 22 percent of the state but currently makes up 37 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths.

Mayor Colvin says systemic oppression and racism, over the centuries, has led to this demographic, along with other minorities, to be hit the hardest.
"We have one of the highest uninsured rates at our local health care provider in the state, and so, this is real to us. That adds to poverty, it adds to people not taking care of themselves," Colvin added.

With the pandemic, there also comes the subsequent economic insecurities for individuals, businesses, and communities.

State Senator Erica Smith, (D) District 3, says the Senate passed House Bill 1023 on Wednesday morning. The bill would pump about $2 billion in COVID-19 relief to communities statewide.

"The department of health, social services, and everyone who has a major role to play in making sure our constituents receive the services that they need," Smith said.

Mayor Colvin says the current pandemic's highlighted underlying problems plaguing Black communities.

"I think that now's the time, if we really want to really make real, impactful change that we have to take care of the vulnerable parts of our community," Colvin said.

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