African American COVID-19 Town Hall Questions & Answers

African American COVID-19 Town Hall Questions & Answers

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath, excessive tiredness, muscle aches and poor appetite. More uncommon symptoms (less than 10% of patients experience them) include headache, confusion, sore throat, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty with taste and smell.

If a person is asymptomatic will they eventually experience symptoms?

There are many people who have been exposed to COVID-19 and will never show the signs or symptoms mentioned above. Therefore it is best to assume that anyone you come in contact with may have COVID-19. The only way to know if someone has COVID-19 is to test them.

Can you describe what tests are available, who they are for and when they should be used?

There is a nasal swab test determines if someone has recently been exposed to COVID-19. This test is usually used to determine if a person’s symptoms are due to COVID-19 or to determine if they have been exposed in the near past. 

When should someone get this test?

As testing is still limited in some communities, it is definitely important that you be tested if you have signs and symptoms that point to a COVID-19 infection.

The antibody test determines if your body has started to make antibodies (proteins that act specifically against an infection). This test is used for people without symptoms to determine if their immune system has produced antibodies.

When should someone get this test?

This test is useful to determine if you have antibodies to COVID-19 which could mean that you are immune; however, this has not been proven. People who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies in their blood can be candidates for plasma donation. Plasma is a potion of blood that continues antibodies.

Where do individuals get tested?

We encourage all people who think they have COVID-19 or think they should be tested, call their primary care physician. Many health systems have testing methods that are available to patients who are seen in their clinics. If you are not getting the response you need to your concerns about your health, you can ask to speak with your doctor or the clinic’s manager.

Is there a difference in the quality of a test?

Due to the fact that there are many manufacturers for COVID-19 testing, we expect that there will be differences in the accuracy of the tests.

How much do the test costs?

There are many different companies which make COVID-19 tests. Medical insurance pays a portion of testing ordered by your physician. If you want more information on the specific cost of a certain tests, we recommend that you speak with your insurance or call the clinic where you plan to get tested.

Should a person go back to work after being tested?

If you are having signs and symptoms of COVID-19, you should not go back to work unless your test is negative. In the meantime, we recommend that you quarantine yourself at home. 

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends “that isolation be maintained for at least 10 days after illness onset and at least 3 days (72 hours) after recovery. Illness onset is defined as the date symptoms begin. Recovery is defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications with progressive improvement or resolution of other symptoms. Ideally, isolation should be maintained for this full period to the extent that it is practicable under rapidly changing circumstances.”

Definitions (from CDC website)


Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Someone in self-quarantine stays separated from others, and they limit movement outside of their home or current place. A person may have been exposed to the virus without knowing it (for example, when traveling or out in the community), or they could have the virus without feeling symptoms. Quarantine helps limit further spread of COVID-19.


Isolation is used to separate sick people from healthy people. People who are in isolation should stay home. In the home, anyone sick should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick” bedroom or space and using a different bathroom (if possible).

When will vaccines be available? Will they be mandatory?

The National Institute of Health is working on a vaccine. The estimates of when a vaccine will be available in sometime in 2021. All vaccines are voluntary in the United States.

What is the percentage of AA affected by COVID 19 in AZ and why are the numbers so low

Based on current estimates, African Americans make up about 5% of the population of Arizona. Based on available numbers, African Americans make up about 3% of deaths from COVID-19. This favorable percentage may be the result of disproportionate impact on tribal populations, incomplete reporting, or that African Americans in Arizona may not live in the crowded settings found in the Northeast or rely to the same extent on public transportation.

As of April 18, non-Hispanic blacks comprised 31.4% of overall COVID-19 comprises roughly 13% of the U.S. population, according to the most recent U.S. Census. Even though that is an alarming number, what makes African Americans so susceptible to having a severe infection is that AA have proportionally higher rates of underlying health conditions, including obesity and childhood obesity, hypertension, cancer, mental health, maternal and child health, heart disease, and diabetes.

How should people of color protect themselves from COVID 19?

The best way to preventillness is to avoid being exposed.If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others (stay 6 feet away, which is about two arm lengths).
  • Keep away from people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched services.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel.
  • Stock up on supplies.
  • If you are in jobs such transportation, grocery stores, or take public transportation, keep a safe distance, use a face mask, encourage your customers to do the same, use hand sanitizers or wash hands as needed, stay behind a shield if possible and keep surfaces clean
  • In the home, if possible, keep a safe place for people who are in high-risk jobs such as healthcare, transportation, or have to use public transportation
  • Create a safety plan for the family – how to keep each other safe and protected, making sure everyone is observing social distancing and using masks when outside, and what to do if someone is sick

Who is responsible for caring for people of color?

Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition or if you are sick. If you do not have a Doctor you may contact your local county hospital.

How does one address health care disparities in the AA community?

The African American or Black population experiences significant disparities with chronic conditions, access to care, preventive screenings, and mental health. To reduce these disparities, one might begin by supporting efforts to foster a community culture of “Equity” and help to identify best practices that reduce disparities and how they can be operationalized.  Get involved in research on the causes of disparities to identify ways to address them.

How is the panel defining “black” people?

The Panel defined “Black” people as described within the US Census definition.

“The U.S. Census Bureau defines the terms “African–American or Black” as any person who “has origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.” Although the African–American or Black population has a long history in the United States, this population remains diverse due to the various locations of historic origin. Approximately 10 percent of the African– American or Black population in the United States is foreign-born, immigrants of African descent, who migrated from countries such as the Caribbean and Latin America.”

How is the state managing undocumented immigrants for confirmed cases, deaths and testing? 

According to Ray Ybarra-Maldonado, a Phoenix immigration attorney, “It is 100% safe,” that “The government gave the green light so that the immigrant community, regardless of their legal status, can receive medical attention in case they get COVID-19, without fear of future repercussions.”  The immigrant community is encouraged to not be afraid to call a public health institution if they experience symptoms of COVID-19, as the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus is known.

What can be done to protect the prisons (i.e. officers, guards, inmates, health care workers…)?

Effective April 13, 2020, the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry extended the suspension of legal and non-legal visitation at all Arizona prison complexes for an additional 30 days, through May 13, 2020, at which time the suspension will be re-evaluated. This action was taken to reduce the risk of the potential spread of COVID-19 within the prisons and its impact on staff and inmates.

The suspension of visitation includes non-contact visits and applies to facilities operated by the Department as well as third-party operated facilities. The existing Department policies for phone calls and written letters remain in effect. (CenturyLink has continued to provide inmates with two additional 15-minute phone calls per week, free of charge.)

The Department continues to implement its existing Communicable Disease and Infection Control protocols, remind staff and inmates about how they can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, including washing hands, sanitizing surfaces, covering coughs and sneezes, and require employees to stay home if they are sick.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry is required by statute (A.R.S. § 11-593(B)(4)) to report all inmate deaths. The county Medical Examiner is required by statute (A.R.S. § 11-594(A)(2)) to conduct a death investigation and potential autopsy of all inmate deaths. Upon completion of the death investigation and any autopsy, the county Medical Examiner is required by statute (A.R.S. § 11-594(A)(3)(5)) to certify the cause and manner of death and to promptly execute a death certificate indicating the cause and manner of death.

The latest data and COVID-19 Strategic Management Updates can be found on our website at

What steps are needed to maintain physical health during COVID 19?  Will exercise exacerbate the spread of the virus in the body while symptomatic? or asymptomatic?

Moderate exercising and being fit, boosts your immune systems. Actually, a single workout can increase and improve your ability to fight off germs. But be careful not to increase the intensity of your regular workout, this may temporarily decrease your immune response. Ex. Moderate exercise would be a 30-minute walk.   

What are suggested ways to build up one’s immune system?

According to Harvard Health, the first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Your immune system function better when protected from environmental attacks and is enhanced by healthy living strategies, such as:

  • Maintain a diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Regular exercise
  • Maintained a healthy weight
  • No smoking
  • If you drink, limit your alcohol intake
  • Get adequate amount of sleep (7-9 hours)
  • Decrease stress
  • Take action to avoid infections (i.e. washing hands frequently)

What steps are needed to keep my family healthy during COVID 19?

What steps to take for a loved one who lives alone and has the virus, lives locally, but other family members are at high risk, therefore cannot care for the loved one?

  • Stay connected by having regular scheduled check in (phone call, video chat, send letters/cards)
  • Run errands
  • Create an emergency plan, if the fall ill, who would they/you contact
  • Take care of yourself

How long does the virus live on various surfaces/items?

According to the WHO, the most important thing to know about coronavirus on surfaces is that they can easily be cleaned with common household disinfectants that will kill the virus. Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hours on copper and less than 24 hours on cardboard. As, always clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Can the virus spread in other ways (i.e. HVAC systems)? There has been one study that identified possible airborne transmission by air-conditioning, but it was highly unlikely proper air conditioning units used in businesses can transmit the virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced by an infected person cough or sneezes.

Can heat or UV light kill the virus?

COVID 19 survive for shorter periods of time at higher temperatures and higher humidity than in cooler or dryer environments. It is also unclear whether warm weather affect the spread of the virus. The temperature would be based on the materials of the surface and the environment.