Interventional cardiologist Dr. Warren Strickland of Crestwood Medical Center presented what he called “alarming’’ statistics among the black community regarding COVID-19 at the weekly update at the Huntsville City Council chambers.
According to Strickland, though that segment represents just 13 percent of the United States population it accounts for 28 percent of COVID-19 deaths as of Wednesday.
In Alabama, only 11 percent of vaccinations have been administered to blacks. Strickland said he wasn’t sure if it was because low vaccinations were available or if it was because of patient hesitancy to take the newly developed shots.
He is certain of one thing: “We really are going to have to make an all-out effort to educate the African American community about the importance of receiving the vaccine, and make sure that we provide access to the vaccine as well,” Strickland said.
Hospitalizations in Madison County have dropped to 104 — well under half from previous weeks — with 21 patients in ICU and 11 on ventilators. However, Strickland said people are still dying from the highly infectious disease.
As of midday Wednesday, there were 378,785 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 9,257 deaths in the state. Those numbers were 27,627 and 324 in Madison County.
State Rep. Anthony Daniels of Huntsville, who, like Sanders is also black, has first-hand knowledge of the disease having survived it at the end of December.
“I will tell you, at the age of 38 I have never gone through anything so difficult in my life,’’ said Daniels, who was diagnosed on Christmas Eve and could only interact with his family through Zoom or Facetime.
“I was struggling for six days,’’ he said. “My lowest temperature during that particular stretch was 100.4.’’
Vaccine availability should continue to increase. More vaccination sites are being added, including at Sam’s and Walmart, and Huntsville Hospital has reopened John Hunt Park for shot seekers.
President Joe Biden said at a town hall meeting Tuesday he believed there would be enough supplies to vaccinate all Americans by the end of July.
“I think we can accomplish that goal,’’ Sanders said, “but it’s going to take a community effort.’’
The two men continued to stress the need to sanitize, practice distancing and wearing masks. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing two masks to offer further protection against mutations of the virus.