Local faith-based leaders seek to decrease racial disparity found in coronavirus deaths

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Despite being a smaller portion of the population, new data from the New York State Department of Health shows death rates from COVID-19 are greater for black Upstate New Yorkers than whites.

Community leaders in Albany want to turn that number around. For one group, that push starts at church.

When Dr. Dorcey Applyrs began seeing data that showed the disparity between blacks and whites due to COVID-19, she knew something needed to be done.

“I have personally heard members of my community say things like, ‘You don’t have faith if you don’t feel you can go out and resume daily activities,'” she said.

Those conversations led her to reach out to the City of Albany and several local churches. Faith-based leaders are now helping to inform black communities of the spread of the coronavirus in efforts to lower infection rates.

Rev. Damone Paul Johnson hopes to relay a message of hope to his congregation.

“I think it’s not only getting the message out to socially distance, but it’s also — for our purposes — to offer some encouragement and some hope,” he said.

And while Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, overall, she thinks people in Albany are listening to the message, pastors can help amplify it.

“It’s incumbent on all of us,” she said. “This isn’t just an African American thing. It’s not just a Latino thing. This is our job as a community to come together and make sure every member of our community is safe.”

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