Georgia Democrats Speak Out About Impact of Coronavirus Pandemic On Black Georgians

May 7, 2020

Today, Democratic leaders across Georgia are highlighting the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Black Georgians, and how Republicans’ failed response at both the federal and state levels has only made this crisis worse. 

COVID-19 has been particularly hard on Georgia’s black community after years of Republican inaction on Georgia’s health care inequities and failure to fully expand Medicaid, with a recent study finding that 80% of hospitalized coronavirus patients are African American.

At today’s press conference, leaders highlighted how federal and state responses to this crisis have disproportionately impacted black Georgians and people of color, while small and minority-owned businesses are denied federal Paycheck Protection program funding, and how Georgia’s decision to reopen businesses against medical advice is putting workers in jeopardy.

Read what these leaders had to say:

“As a Black woman and as a survivor of this disease, I know all too well the toll that the coronavirus takes on the body — particularly Black bodies. Black Georgians are more vulnerable to this disease because of years of racial inequality in our systems, and our people are on the front lines now that Georgia has reopened against medical advice,” said Nikema Williams, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. “But instead of taking action, Republican politicians have literally expressed more concern over losing businesses than they do for Black lives. The coronavirus has shown us just how much is at stake when we talk about our Democratic values, like affordable health care and an economy that works for all — and Black Georgians and Georgia Democrats are ready to fight.

“COVID-19 has highlighted and deepened the serious health care crises that have failed African American Georgians for years,” said State Representative Kim Schofield. “For many years now, we’ve seen Republicans refuse to take action on Georgia’s health care crisis and fully expand Medicaid, and now we are paying the price. African Americans only make up 30% of Georgia’s population, but 80% of our hospitalized coronavirus patients are African American. This virus is not an equalizer — it is putting more African American bodies at risk, and putting our lives at stake.”

“We cannot ignore the coronavirus pandemic’s economic and public health impact that has affected all Georgians, but we know that COVID-19 has had a particularly devastating impact on people of color, and particularly African-Americans,” said State Representative William Boddie. “African-Americans have been shown to be at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19, and we need more protections from our government. We cannot have citizens thrown back into dangerous work situations because Governor Kemp will not adhere to the advice of public health experts and the scientific data when he prematurely reopened Georgia last week.”

“As a registered nurse, business owner and community leader in Southwest Georgia, I know all too well that rural Georgia and black Georgians have had to bear the brunt of this pandemic,” said Joyce Barlow, candidate for State House District 151 (Albany). “Our hospital was nearly overrun and our nurses were afraid to come into work because years of Republican inaction have left us unprepared for the health crises that put our lives at risk. We need our leaders to fight for us, and take this crisis seriously so none of the cities or counties in my district or anywhere in Georgia will ever suffer like this again.”

“For years, Georgia Democrats have advocated for crucial programs to help us fund our hospitals and close the health care coverage gap, but Republicans have refused to stand up for Georgians. With COVID-19, we are seeing the faces of the victims of this pandemic, and the majority are African Americans and people of color,” said State Representative Shelly Hutchinson. “It has never been more clear whose lives are most at stake when Republicans refuse to take action on the issues that matter most. Black Georgians deserve better — and Georgia Democrats will keep fighting for the protections we need.”


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