Memphis pastor warns vulnerable community of rising COVID-19 case numbers

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The local COVID-19 case count climbed even higher Monday.

The State of Tennessee said in Shelby County, more than 9,600 people have been infected with the virus, and 186 people have died.

Those grave numbers have some community leaders calling for more awareness as to just how deadly COVID-19 is—particularly in the African American community.

Pastor Kieth Norman with First Baptist Church Broad in Binghampton said the city and health department are doing what they can. Now, others need to step up.

“I believe if people have great information, they will make great decisions,” Norman said.

Norman has been a leader in Memphis for years.

READ MORE: Mid-South coronavirus case tracker

Norman said he was alarmed when he saw recent stats showing more than 60% of those who have died from COVID-19 are African American. 

“I think we have to pay more attention to how we plan, and we can only make plans by having good data and disseminating that data in such a way that all people are able to unravel and process it very well,” Norman said.

He plans to launch a series of personal public service announcements.

“With just familiar faces beginning with my own and using voices that people are accustomed to hearing in very practical ways,” Norman said. “We need to share also that there are co-morbidities that really show up more so in the African American community than anywhere else. High blood pressure, cardiac issues, COPD and diabetes and these underlying conditions. We use the word co-morbidities, but we just need to basically say to people, these other health issues can complicate COVID recovery and often cause people to die.”

The goal is to have practical communication.

“We need to share and sound the alarm,” Norman said. “That’s the prophet’s call, that’s the church’s call, that’s the human call. We need to do this.”

Norman plans to have the PSAs on TV sometime this week.

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