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Maine CDC: State population is 1.6% Black, yet 24% of Maine's COVID-19 cases are among Black community

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah says this racial disparity is unacceptable, and that it's something the Maine CDC is working to fix.

AUGUSTA, Maine — During Friday's Maine CDC briefing, Dr. Nirav Shah noted that the Maine CDC has seen some racial disparities when it comes to the coronavirus in Maine.

For example, Blacks or African Americans make up for only 1.6 percent of the state's population. However, the Black community represents 24 percent of Maine's total coronavirus cases.

Dr. Shah says this racial disparity is unacceptable, and that it's something the Maine CDC is working to fix. 

Dr. Shah also made note of the fact that he's been living in Maine for just about a year now. He says he learned quickly how Maine people work together to find solutions, using last summer as an example.

About 450 asylum seekers came to Portland between June and August 2019.
Many stayed at the Portland Expo until they could find permanent housing.
Dr. Shah explained how his first week on the job largely centered on helping these families and watching the response from the Maine community as well.

On Friday, Dr. Shah said many of those same asylum seekers are now on the front lines, helping Maine through this pandemic. 

"Many of the individuals who stayed at the Expo last summer are now themselves volunteering and playing pivotal roles in the response to COVID-19 across the state. Individuals in Brunswick, Lewiston, and Portland, with support and funding from the Good Shepherd Food Bank, are helping to deliver food to single mothers, people without transportation, and those who need to be isolating and quarantining during their battle with COVID-19," Dr. Shah said. "Many of those same individuals who stayed at the Expo are volunteering through Fedcap to clean and provide other support services at hospitals during this time."

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