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State adds racial data to COVID-19 reports; town hall will discuss racial disparities in infections

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State adds racial data to COVID-19 reports; town hall will discuss racial disparities in infections

Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey speaks during a March 2 press conference. Screen shot obtained via Facebook.
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DeKalb County, GA – As national reports suggest that black Americans are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than other groups, the state of Georgia has begun to provide data about the race of people contracting the virus.

The topic will also be the subject of a town hall hosted by DeKalb County set for Thursday, April 9.

Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey noted during an April 8 press conference that this information is now on the Health Department’s website, but said it hasn’t been consistently tracked until this point.

“That variable is missing in many cases,” Toomey said.

In nearly 64 percent of the state’s 9,901 confirmed cases, the race of the person who contracted the virus is not known. According to the data, 19.97 of those infected are black, 14.74 percent are white and 1.5 percent are identified as “other.”

Toomey said the state should have better information going forward and said the state recognizes the need for this information. During the press conference, she said the department will include additional data in its reports that might narrow down cases to specific cities and communities. Currently, the state is just reporting data at the county level. Reports aren’t available for specific cities and communities.

“We are working on that right now … and hope to have something up soon,” Toomey said. “The first step was simply the racial data, which is incomplete but is an important aspect of how we’re going to address prevention.”

NBC News reports that in Chicago, 70 percent of people who died are black even though African Americans account for 30 percent of the city’s population.

“In Milwaukee County, which is 27 percent black, the figure is 81 percent,” NBC News reported.

Whether it’s part of a broader national trend is unclear because many states aren’t releasing this data. To read the full story from NBC News, click here.

The April 9 DeKalb County COVID-19 town hall will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be streamed online.

Here is the full announcement about that event:

DECATUR, Ga. – A panel of medical and psychiatric experts are prepared to tackle tough questions and issues during DeKalb County’s third COVID-19 virtual town hall meeting on Thursday, April 9, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

One key topic of discussion will focus on recent reporting highlighting disproportionate rates of COVID-19 infections in black Americans.

The virtual town hall will be hosted by DeKalb’s COVID-19 Strategic Task Force. DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond formed the task force to provide professional, technical and strategic counsel related to protecting the health, safety and economic well-being of DeKalb’s 750,000 residents.

“Doctors and healthcare professionals should lead America’s response to this deadly pandemic,” said DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond. “They know what needs to be done to fight this insidious enemy. When lives are literally hanging in the balance, we must reject mindless partisan bickering and political one-upmanship.”

The town hall will be moderated by radio and television personality Frank Ski. The host of a morning show on V103, Ski has worked in radio, music and acting for more than three decades.

Experts participating in the virtual town hall include:

– S. Elizabeth Ford, the district health director and chief executive officer of the DeKalb County Board of Health since February 2005. She is also serving as the interim district health director of Fulton County Board of Health.

– David Ross, the president and CEO of The Task Force for Global Health, oversees 13 programs focused on disease elimination, prevention, and protection. For more than 35 years, Dr. Ross has led collaborative programs to strengthen information capacity of public health systems around the world.

– Anastasia Brown Alvarado, a board-certified adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist, at Viewpoint Health and Family Ties Inc. Dr. Alvarado graduated from Morehouse School of Medicine in 2006.

– Patrick O’Carroll, head of the health systems strengthening sector of The Task Force for Global Health’s. Dr. O’Carroll has served as a regional health administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist.

– Demaree Trammel, a psychiatry specialist with the DeKalb Community Service Board. Dr. Trammel graduated from Duke University School of Medicine in 1997 and has been practicing for 23 years.

Panelists will provide residents with practical, apolitical advice related to COVID-19 and will answer questions such as:

– How can parents protect the mental health of their children during this pandemic?

– How do you cope with not being allowed to visit the dying or attend a memorial service or funeral?

– What does it mean to “flatten the curve” and how can residents help?

– Can information overload about COVID-19 lead to post-traumatic stress disorder?

– What medications and supplies should residents have during a quarantine?

– Are certain racial or demographic groups less susceptible to contracting the COVID-19 virus?

The virtual town hall can be accessed via:

– www.dekalbcountyga.gov

– Comcast Cable Channel 23 in DeKalb County

– Facebook live: www.facebook.com/ItsInDeKalbGa

Questions also are being accepted now and during the town hall via:

– Email at townhall@dekalbcountyga.gov.

– Social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ItsInDeKalbGa

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ItsInDeKalb.

Questions also will be accepted during the town hall at 404-371-2400.

For additional COVID-19 information, visit www.dekalbcountyga.gov/coronavirus.

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