Reggie Jackson: ‘Systemic racism in health care showing its face’ as COVID-19 impacts Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE -- Reggie Jackson, a prominent leader in the black community, revealed some of his family members tested positive for COVID-19, and talked exclusively with FOX6 News about how he's working with leaders in Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, and protect the city's most vulnerable neighborhoods.

Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson

"He's actually doing a lot better now," said Jackson, with America's Black Holocaust Museum & Nurturing Diversity Partners.

Jackson said his father and two other family members tested positive for COVID-19. One did not survive.

"One of my wife's cousins passed from the virus last week, and his wife has been in intensive care," said Jackson.

Most of the 91 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Milwaukee County have involved members of the African American community. Jackson said having more cases in these neighborhoods isn't a surprise.

Reggie Jackson

Coronavirus Milwaukee

"We've known for many many years there have been health disparities," said Jackson. "We've lost a couple hospitals here on the north side of Milwaukee in recent years."

He said the pandemic has highlighted inequitable access to health care.

Sherman Phoenix

Sherman Phoenix

"Problems with asthma, problems with diabetes, hypertension, things of that nature, and those, the rates of those are much higher in our community," said Jackson. "I think people need to begin to understand the kind of history of systemic racism in our health care system, and how that's really showing its face now."

Black-owned startup businesses in Milwaukee are expected to bear the brunt of financial issues related to COVID-19. Milwaukee's Sherman Phoenix is a hub for 27 small businesses. The Sherman Phoenix rose from the ashes of the Sherman Park unrest in August 2016. The more than two dozen small businesses were forced to close as a result of Governor Tony Evers' "Safer at Home" order, losing tens of thousands of dollars. Developers asked for donations to help.

"It really became a important place in the community," said Jackson. "The virus doesn't discriminate, but because of these disparities that we've had, we're seeing some disparity in the spreading of the virus in the city of Milwaukee."

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