Philadelphia subculture still thinks coronavirus is hoax, expert says

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia health officials want to emphasize that the coronavirus does not discriminate and that it affects every racial and ethnic group.

On Wednesday, health officials announced 360 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the city's total to 1,675.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said of the 528 confirmed Philadelphia cases for which race/ethnicity has been reported, 46 percent are African American, 37 percent are White, 10 percent are Hispanic, and 3 percent are Asian.

"I want to emphasize that this virus does not discriminate," said Dr. Farley. "Every racial and ethnic group, indeed every person in this city is at risk. We all need to be very serious about social distancing and other recommendations to keep residents healthy and slow the spread of the virus."

Some residents think the virus is a hoax.

Action News found many residents taking no precautions and socializing in public parks as if the virus never struck.

"I think it's a hoax, I think it's very hoax," said Debra Sellers of Germantown.

"I'm not wearing no mask, I mean I'm not worried about it," said Kelly Clark of North Philadelphia.

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Other residents know the threat is real.

"I believe it, it's a lot of people getting sick, people dying," said Winnie Chisholm of North Philadelphia.

"This virus is real, it's true and we better not take this for granted," said Jams Simmons of Germantown.

"We're talking about an undereducated, under-connected, under-engaged population in this city who have created their own set of rules," says Glenn Ellis, a medical ethicist and author.

Ellis adds that there is a serious distrust of the medical profession among some African Americans. This created by incidents like the Tuskegee experiment where some African-American men were lied to about treatment for syphillis.

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"There is a legacy, a historical legacy of some of the atrocities that have happened in healthcare, in medicine as it relates to black people, it is not just Tuskegee," he said.

"So you gotta understand how what has happened in this country over its history, what it has done to really create this subculture of folks who are totally disconnected from the mainstream," said Ellis.

He and others wish that subculture would take this more seriously and realize that this is real, this is no joke, not a hoax and nobody is immune.
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