ROCKFORD (WREX) —For the NAACP Rockford Chapter President, Rhonda Greer, the threat of COVID-19 hits home.
"Both my sister and my father have had open heart surgery, and my sister has a blood disease which she has to get her blood cleaned every three weeks. If she catches it and I have any signs of the virus, I'll lose my sister," said Greer.
This fear of losing loved ones is growing in the black community, as health officials continue to find high rates of black Americans catching the virus and dying.
"This crisis is much like Katrina. It has shown and brought to bare systemic disparity, it's being exposed here," said Chicago 4th Ward Alderwoman, Sophia King.
It's disparities like the lack of health care, access to resources and the number of black and brown people working as essential workers that contribute to black Illinoisans making up 42% of deaths in the state.
Chicago is seeing the bulk of that imbalance.
But locally, Dr. Sandra Martell says Winnebago County is not seeing that same disparity in deaths.
However, the county has not released a breakdown of the virus by race yet.
"We kinda know where this is impacting communites and we need to pour testing in those communites, we need to make sure those communites have access to the health care we need," said King.
Another contribution is the stigma within the black community to take care of others before ones self, especially black men.
"I feel that African American men are so focused on home and taking care of home, in some situations, they don't take care of their health. Their health is not high on their agenda," said Greer.
Because the virus is moving at a rapid rate and there is no cure, Greer says it's important people in the black community not only talk about this topic, but also begin to take care of themselves and follow CDC guidlines to staying safe and healthy.