I-TEAM: For many here, COVID-19's message of distance overtaken by need for social justice

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT
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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

DENMARK, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Concerns over the spread of coronavirus rise after three days of protests in the river region. The message of keeping distance has been overtaken by a message of social injustice.

We know COVID-19 disproportionately impacts the African American community. We also know large gatherings greatly increase the risk of spreading the disease. For days, people have been protesting in large groups across our area and across the country. Now some are choosing to self-quarantine.

“United. Marching for injustice.”


Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Even a pandemic could not silence the outrage felt across America.

“Whether it is from shooting an unarmed black man who is begging and pleading for his life to another man screaming out 'I can’t breathe' to a community saying we need clean water - I mean it is all systemic," Deanne Berry said.

Berry has been fighting for clean drinking water in Denmark for years. She could not sit at home for this battle either.

"I am worried about COVID spreading from these rallies," Berry said. "It was a concern of mine prior to going to Columbia.”

The rallies brought thousands of people standing close together. Some shouting with masks and many without.

Dr. Phil Coule with Augusta University told us this is a worst-case scenario for the spread of COVID-19.

“That certainly creates a risk -- large amount of people coming in contact with large numbers of people is certainly a risk that does concern me," Coule said.

National data shows the virus has been unmerciful to the black community. We found

reporting black people made up 80 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations in Georgia.

In Georgia, Hancock County is one of the hardest-hit regions in the nation by the virus. More than 70 percent of the population there are African American. In Denmark, S.C., nearly 90 percent are African American.

“People were out there passionate and pained, and so no, they weren’t thinking about COVID, they were thinking about keeping their sons safe. Their families safe," Berry said.

Even though she isn't showing any symptoms right now, Berry says she is staying home now in order to protect her family and community from another enemy -- an enemy that is still claiming black lives across America.

"Yeah, I am in self-quarantine right now. I haven’t left the house to do anything," Berry said. "Later today I am going to be tested for COVID-19.”

She is self-quarantining at home until she gets her test results, and she’s asking​ others to do the same. Until then, she is using this time to reorganize and to put her next plan together.

“Do what you must because you are valuable," Berry said. "You are valuable, not just valuable to this fight and this cause, but you are valuable to your family and your community.”

She knows her community can’t continue to fight for injustice if the invisible enemy attacks their health.

“Please self-quarantine until you know for sure that you are good to go just take time to reorganize put a plan together but please self-quarantine.”

If you would like to be tested for COVID-19, we have a list of testing sites

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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