Dying To Party? Why the rush to return to normal may be putting us at risk.
Viral video surfaced over the weekend of a large group of African-American partygoers at an overcrowded house party in Chicago. The video sparked outrage over social media for what many viewed as a blatant disregard for social distancing and the flattening of the COVID-19 curve. As of this writing, the video has garnered nearly 2 million views and has prompted a response by Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago’s openly gay African-American Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Asked about the video during his daily press conference Sunday, Pritzker said he hadn’t seen it but did hear about it. He said going to a crowded party and not social distancing could lead to the spread of COVID-19, especially since many people spread it while they’re not showing any symptoms.
“You’re literally putting everyone around you in danger, you are, they are putting you in danger, and very importantly, all of those people are putting their families and their friends who are not there with them in danger,” Pritzker said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the party “utterly unacceptable” on Twitter.
Simultaneously, in Atlanta, video of an outdoor event inside Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, also resulted in a similar reaction. But the scrutiny of those in attendance intensified after Atlanta club promoter, Cedrick Kentrell, who had recently tested positive for and recovered from COVID-19 was spotted in the video.
Within hours, Kentrell posted an emotional video on Instagram, which has now been deleted—Living Out Loud 2.0 retained a copy. In the video, Kentrell addresses his decision to attend the event and appears to take responsibility for his actions.
“I was completely wrong and blinded by the fact that I was just doing well and wanted to get out,” said Kentrell. “Especially, when it’s a time where we need to be more careful...we need to be practicing safe precautions, we need to be social distancing. It’s serious folks. I lived through it. I wouldn’t wish that on none of you,” he added.
While Kentrell exhibited remorse, he stopped short of a full apology.
All of this comes on the heels of Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R-GA) decision to ignore scientific data and to reopen the state, thereby, subsequently increasing the potential for new infections in the peach state. The numbers prove that COVID-19 is not only a health issue, but a race issue as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it’s revealed that 30 percent of COVID-19 cases are African-American, even though African-Americans make up around 13 percent of the population of the United States.
The Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP has called on Black Georgians to defy Kemp’s order and to stage what they’re calling a “Black Out, Sick Out.” Tweeting: “Hands off our community @BrianKempGA. This is not a game.”
So why does it appear that a visible minority of African-Americans have decided to risk their lives (and film it for social media) and the lives of their loved ones by operating as if they're immune to contracting and spreading COVID-19?
Social media reactions range from ambivalence to defiance, to accusations of being “anti-black” for criticizing partygoers.
But numbers do not lie.
Positive COVID-19 diagnoses spiked by more than 500 cases in a matter of seven hours Saturday afternoon, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the total count in the state has since surpassed 23,220. This increase happened a day after Kemp’s reopening of Georgia went into effect.
And while African Americans make up just over 30 percent of Chicago’s population, they account for more than 50 percent of coronavirus-related deaths.
Living Out Loud 2.0 will always advocate for the health and well-being of all African-Americans, and specifically African-American LGBTQ people. Black folks are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 and are dying at disproportionate rates. Plus, many African-Americans have underlying medical conditions and are more likely to not have access to adequate health care, which can be fatal with a COVID-19 diagnosis. We are deeply saddened that those of us who are equally invested in the future post COVID-19 as we are in “living for today,” might be a casualty of someone else’s recklessness.