On Wednesday, Feb. 17, abc27 News’ Valerie Pritchett hosted a virtual town hall on the impact COVID-19 has had on communities of color.

Doctors from all over the region were available to answer questions about the disease and address concerns about the vaccine.

Tina Nixon is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at UPMC Pinnacle Health. She helped organize the event.

“We have to give people accurate information.” said Nixon, “It is our responsibility to make sure they have the knowledge about the importance of vaccination to help protect them and their families.”

Nixon says there is a history of mistrust in the black community in the health system.

“We go back decades to the Tuskegee experiment,” said Nixon, “There are so many examples of the healthcare system using black people instead of helping them.”

Dr. John Goldman is an infectious disease specialist with UPMC Pinnacle. He says past history is having an impact on the health of people during the pandemic.

“I understand the history and the reluctance,” said Goldman. “I want people to know this is about their health, and I want them to understand there is enough of the virus in our communities, that if people don’t get the vaccination, there is a good chance they will get the disease.”

Panelists will covered topics ranging from why the virus is disproportionately affecting the black and brown communities:

  • What myths exist about the COVID-19 vaccines
  • The importance of getting tested
  • Following COVID protocols
  • Addressing the mistrust in the healthcare system