Oprah Winfrey plans to shine the spotlight on how COVID-19 is affecting the Black community at a disproportionate rate in a new series she has launched on Apple TV+. Her “Oprah Talks COVID-19” that will feature timely conversations will be available weekly. The first took place on Tuesday, April 14. Viewers in more than 100 countries can stream the series in the Apple TV app without a subscription.
New episodes will be available weekly, and clips from new episodes can be viewed for free in Apple News.
Winfrey talked about the series on April 14 with Hoda Kotb on the “Today” show and explained why she wants to discuss how the disease is impacting Black people. You may view the first episode at apple.co/-oprahtalks.
“It’s not only ravaging our community, but people who have preexisting conditions, which I think people didn’t hear that,” she explained. “So if you are taking medication for your diabetes, if you’re taking medication because of hypertension, if you need an asthma inhaler for asthma, if you have any kind of lung disorder.”
In September 2019, Winfrey talked about having pneumonia during a visit to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which she also brought up with Kotb.
She said because of that diagnosis, it didn’t take much for her to take the virus seriously early on.
“So the moment I heard preexisting conditions, I’m like, ‘Lock the door, nobody coming in here,’ ” she explained.
Winfrey also said that more testing for the virus is needed, and the worst thing Black folks can do right now is take a casual approach to safety.
“One of the things we’re talking about in the special is the need for more testing stations obviously, but more importantly I think it’s important for African Americans to understand for ourselves that this is so serious,” said Winfrey, who also revealed that she’s donating $10 million to help the Black community fight the virus.
“It’s taking us out,” she added. “It’s killing your cousins and your friends and your neighbors, and you need to do whatever you can to protect yourself.”
Studies have shown that Black people are dying in states such as Michigan at much higher rates than other racial groups because of the disease. In fact, 40 percent of Blacks have passed away from the disease in that state, despite making up only 14 percent of the population.
Cities like Milwaukee, New Orleans and Chicago are in a similar position.
Winfrey’s interview comes days after Tyler Perry also told Black people to take the virus seriously. He spoke out following the death of Charles Gregory, who was a hairstylist on his production crew.
“While everyone can contract this virus it is Black people who are dying from it in much larger numbers,” wrote Tyler wrote on Instagram in early April. “This thing is real, Black people.”