Philadelphia's black communities disproportionately hit by city's coronavirus pandemic

Pandemic hits Philadelphia black communities

Philadelphia health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley shared new data Thursday that said African Americans are the most at-risk for COVID-19 as the city raised alarm bells over its mounting virus cases. The White House said the city could be a new pandemic hot spot, and city leaders are working to flatten the curve disproportionately affecting minority neighborhoods. 

"This problem is affecting people who have disadvantages even more," Farley said in a Thursday press conference. 

Socioeconomic barriers in some Philadelphia neighborhoods make it difficult to spread awareness of coronavirus precautions. Roughly half the people in one North Philadelphia area have no internet access, and most of them live below the poverty level, forcing city leaders to rely on other methods to make sure every community is as safe as possible. 

Some measures Farley said they were using included adding inserts into people's water bills that outlined social distancing guidelines, and tasking census takers with spreading COVID-19 information when they are doing outreach. 

"Look at all the structural issues around, all these health care inequalities all these lower income jobs, it tends to impact individuals and neighborhoods of color a lot more than it does other neighborhoods," Philadelphia Councilman Darrell Clarke told CBS News' Errol Barnett. 

Clarke said people of color tend to be on the front lines with jobs that leave them exposed.

"We have individuals that are working in these jobs in retail, in super markets and stores around that are still allowed to be open," he explained. "Those people have to deal with the public on a consistent bases, right. They are more likely to come in to contact with someone who may be infected than other people." 

Community leaders such as Majeedah Rashid are also stepping up. Rashid runs a non-profit called the Nicetown Community Development Center, which serves 70,000 low-to-middle income residents in Philadelphia. 

Right now, Rashid is focused on spreading awareness of coronavirus safety measures to the people she helps. 

"We're calling them on the telephone directly," she said. "The new ways we're trying to reach out to people are kind of... social media on our platforms, including the way younger people use it on IG."