ATLANTA - Flanked by several members of Atlanta's Black clergy leaders, Rev. Timothy McDonald called on black churches to remain closed as the state reopens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People are dying. Church members are dying. Choir members, deacons, pastors are all dying,” said Rev. McDonald, who is the senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in East Atlanta.
Citing the disproportionate rates of coronavirus infection and death among African Americans, he also made a plea to businesses to delay their return to business as usual.
“A barber doesn't know who is coming in that door. A beautician doesn't know who is coming in that door. You can have this virus and be asymptomatic and that’s how it spreads,” he said with a dozen men and women standing feet apart along Liberty Plaza near the state capitol.
CDC officials say COVID-19 infection rates are higher among African Americans for a number of rates--including underlying health issues, inadequate access to health care, and to covid19 testing. Public health experts say the high number of multigenerational households in the black community also contributes to why to deadly virus spreads so quickly in the black community.
Attorney Mawuli Davis is among many grassroots activists across the nation pushing the #StayHome campaign on social media.
“We are targeting specifically the young people in our community because we are so susceptible if they go out and they come in and interact with an elder in their household or a parent then they risk losing an entire family. Every young person thinks they are invincible. You think nothing can hurt or harm you and they take risks. We have to do our part and that's why it is so irresponsible for government officials to reopen the economy when this health crisis has not been addressed,” said Davis.
Many infectious disease experts have suggested it's best to reopen a state after it's experienced a downward trend in COVID-19 cases two weeks or longer. Davis and the clergy members who demonstrated at Liberty Plaza Friday agree.
“When the governor opens the gold dome, state agencies, the governor's mansion, then I might consider that it's safe,” said Rev. McDonald.