Tom Cooper/Getty ImagesOprah Winfrey is speaking out about COVID-19’s “devastating” impact on the black community in the United States.
In an interview with ABC’s T.J. Holmes on Good Morning America, Winfrey said it’s “our responsibility” to convey to black Americans that they’re at a higher risk of contracting — and even dying from — the disease if they have preexisting conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or asthma.
“I had pneumonia back in August,” Winfrey said. “So I consider that a preexisting condition because I’ve been trying to get rid of this bronchial thing since, so I heard it, like, ‘Whoo, all right, I’m going to be more susceptible.'”
It’s Winfrey’s own health scare last year that led to her quarantining away from longtime partner Stedman Graham, whom she said refused to cancel speaking engagements and continued to travel around the U.S.
When Graham arrived home to begin socially distancing like everyone else, Winfrey put him in the guest house, and they celebrated his return to the main house two weeks later.
Winfrey said she believes Graham didn’t believe, like many others, that the entire country could be shut down “because none of us have ever seen anything like this before.”
Winfrey said she wasn’t surprised to learn that the coronavirus disproportionately affected people of color in cities like Chicago and states like Louisiana.
“What I do know is that there is a way to connect to the community in such a way and using language that people stop and pay attention to,” Winfrey added, explaining that it’s now her focus to get people to listen.
Winfrey will highlight the coronavirus’ health disparities on her Apple TV+ series, Oprah Talks COVID-19. The “Deadly Impact on Black America” episode of the show is now available on Apple TV+.
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