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Black America must wake up to this viral threat (CNN)

Tips to stay safe during coronavirus pandemic 04:37

CNN host Van Jones is the CEO of the REFORM Alliance, a criminal justice organization for which Jessica Jackson serves as the chief advocacy officer. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.

(CNN)At the start of any pandemic, early information can mislead. Unfortunately, for vulnerable populations, false assumptions can have deadly consequences. African Americans are about to learn this awful truth — in devastating ways. Two data points converged at the start of this crisis to make a lot of black folk shrug and think, “Coronavirus is not our problem.”

Myth #1: Covid-19 is a white disease.
The Americans who were initially diagnosed with the virus were mostly white. At the beginning of the epidemic, the media understandably focused on affluent white people who had traveled overseas, especially to Asia. The impact of this news coverage had African Americans joking among ourselves that perhaps we were somehow immune to the virus. As crazy as it sounds, a rumor took off that this was a disease that kills only white people.
It got so bad that Idris Elba, one of the first famous black victims of coronavirus, had to post a video begging black people to believe that people of African descent could get it, too.