Nashville to release COVID-19 cases by race as African Americans hit harder by virus nationwide

Posted at 6:45 PM, Apr 08, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — States across the country are reporting that African Americans are dying at a higher rate from COVID-19, and now Metro Nashville will begin collecting racial data when it comes to positive coronavirus test results. 

Dr. James Hildreth has warned the African American community about the risks of COVID-19.

"There’s evidence showing African Americans are dying at a much higher rate from COVID-19," Dr. Hildreth said. "The science predicted this.” 

Lack of accessible healthcare plays a role too according to Renã Robinson. She’s a chemistry professor at Vanderbilt University who studies racial disparity in connection to healthcare.

“I think especially for black communities where there’s a high prevalence of underlying health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and asthma, folks are aware that you have these underlying conditions, please take extreme measures to be safe and protect yourself," Robinson said.

Metro‘s COVID-19 task force announced that they will begin to release what race a patient is if they test positive for the novel coronavirus.

“We can’t really understand what is happening without the data," Dr. Hildreth said.

According to the local health department in Nashville, they’re calling each person with COVID-19 and asking them their race, so it could be a while before the data is released.

“I think this is important for us to understand, on how the disease is impacting certain communities, but also what we can do in these communities to help prevent the spread of the disease,” Robinson said.

Robinson said many African Americans have jobs that put them on the front lines, so they can’t work remote, which may be contributing to the problem too.

As of now, the State of Tennessee already releases the patient’s race in their daily reports. 


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What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.