CAMDEN, NJ — Crowds gathering in Camden parks. Metro police breaking up gatherings on sidewalks. BBQ’s being held over the Easter weekend.
During Tuesday evening’s Zoom-held council meeting, Camden City Council President Curtis Jenkins rattled off a few examples of disregard for COVID-19 executive order concerning him.
“When you ride through the city some folks are just taking this like business as usual and that’s kind of scary when you think of what this pandemic is doing to minorities across this country,” Jenkins said.
The City of Camden approached 300 positive COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday evening — the most of any municipality in the county. An update on case numbers and deaths will be provided later today.
Earlier in the day, the State Health Commissioner confirmed that a New Jersey’s African American population makes up an inordinate number of deaths linked to the virus thus far.
Of the first 729 to die from the novel coronavirus, 60 percent (435) were white, 24 percent (175) were African American, 5 percent were Asian and 11 percent others. In the Garden State, as of July 2019, the population was made up of just 15 percent African American, 72 percent Caucasian and 10 percent Asian American.
"As imperfect as it is, getting the racial breakdown is something we all feel is important," said Gov. Phil Murphy during the daily press conference.
"That is a meaningfully higher percentage," he added, in reference to deaths in African American communities.
President Donald Trump and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed the sentiments at a White House briefing Tuesday saying African Americans are being impacted particularly hard by COVID-19.
It is a "tremendous challenge" for the country, Trump said.
An April Pew Research Center survey conducted this month among nearly 5,000 adults in the nation also concluded that 27 percent of black people either knew someone who was hospitalized with or died from COVID-19, compared to 1 in 10 white and Hispanic people.
The same survey found that of the populations very concerned about contracting the virus, 43 percent were Hispanic, 31 percent black and 18 percent white.
“African Americans and Latinos are a big part of the lives that have been lost,” Jenkins said, noting that he has been additionally concerned because of his age and having received radiation a couple of years ago. “Some people just aren't taking it seriously.”
In Camden County, cases hovered around 1,500 as of Tuesday evening and roughly 50 deaths.