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As the U.S. hit a grim milestone on Tuesday of 400,000 deaths from COVID-19, Black church leaders are joining the effort to convince African Americans, long skeptical of the medical establishment, to put their trust in vaccines to help bring the pandemic to an end.
JESSE JACKSON: Get your vaccination.
- Get your vaccination.
JESSE JACKSON: Now.
JESSE JACKSON: Keep hope.
- Keep hope.
JESSE JACKSON: Alive.
ANTHONY FAUCI: One of the things that I think is something we need to pay attention to, and I, quite frankly, have been spending a considerable amount of my own time, is outreaching-- particularly to minority communities-- to make sure that you get them to be vaccinated and you explain why it's so important for themselves, their family, and their community.
MARCELLA NUNEZ-SMITH: And the Black church is among the most trusted institutions in the Black community, which makes it an ideal venue to raise awareness and address health disparities. Choose Healthy Life will be funding 50 churches in five cities across our nation. The cities are New York, Atlanta, Washington DC, Newark, New Jersey, and Detroit, 50 churches, 10 in each of the cities. Each will have a black public health navigator doing the work on the ground that's needed to help these churches move forward.
ANTHONY FAUCI: We need to get the overwhelming proportion of our population, 70% to 85% at least, vaccinated. And that's the reason why we're out there making sure that particularly those that are most vulnerable, such as in the African-American and Latinx population. When we do that, the level of virus in the community will be at such a low level, I would project in the fall, mid-fall, we'll be able to get back to that type of worship, which we all are longing for right now.
SHONI TAYLOR: I was thinking, like, you know, I want to see them take that out of there. I don't want them to give me the Black version of the vaccine. As crazy as that sounds, I-- like I know that's not a thing, but there is like this underlying mistrust of the government, I guess, and are they doing this to try to hurt people?
GABBY CUDJOE WILKES: The ways in which, you know, this nation as so often used Black bodies as Guinea pigs, right? I would like to see America really ensuring that Black and Brown folks who are already disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are the ones who are given the vaccines and what is necessary to bring them back to full health.
MARCELLA NUNEZ-SMITH: And the impact on communities of color has been uniquely devastating, our economic and health fronts. To date, one in every 735 Black Americans, one in every 1,000 Latinos, and one in every 595 indigenous Americans has died COVID-19. They are the same disparities that are ingrained in our economy, our housing system, our food system, our Justice system and so many other areas of our society, we know are conspiring in this moment to create this grief gap.
We cannot become numb in the face of such tragedy.
- I appreciate you.
- All right.
- Thanks, Bobby.
- Take care. You are all doing amazing work here.
RAPHAEL WARNOCK: These comorbidities that we've been dealing with-- hypertension, diabetes, stroke, all of these things exacerbate the impact of COVID-19 in communities of color. So we are dying, more likely to die, dying more often. And we're disproportionately represented among front-line workers. And so this is ongoing work, but this is an important effort that moves us in the right direction.