Mid-South leaders encourage people to be cautious and get vaccine, especially Black community

Local leaders plead for precautions this holiday season

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Local leaders are urging people to take precautions ahead of the Christmas holiday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The best Christmas gift we can give to each other, the best holiday gift we can give to each other is to make it to 2021,” Tennessee Sen. Raumesh Akbari said.

Sen. Akbari was one of several leaders in the civil, faith, and healthcare community on a virtual call Friday hosted by Mississippi Boulevard Pastor, J. Lawrence Turner.

They’re making a plea to the community to take precautions this holiday season.

“Over the past 6 weeks, there’s not a day that goes by where I’m not getting a call of a member that has COVID,” Truner said.

This plea is especially geared toward the African American community– which makes up 57 percent of positive coronavirus cases and 60 percent of the deaths in the county.

“We’re seeing so much suffering to the point where we’re having to make sure we’re prepared to not only take care of patients presenting for care, but we’re also having to provide care and grief and counseling to our associates... they have not seen this much magnitude of suffering and death in such a compressed period of time,” Dr. Cassandra Howard, Chief Medical Officer with Methodist LeBonheur Health, said.

Dr. Howard and other doctors are also encouraging the African American community to get the vaccine despite some hesitancy because of past experiences and injustices.

“I want to encourage the African American community to not be fearful... you have those conspiracy theories out there, but this is not something to hold us down or to hold us back, but it is something to save our lives,” Dr. Reginald Coopwood, President and CEO of Regional One Health, said.

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