‘This too shall pass’: Mayor Turner highlights racial disparity in Houston coronavirus cases, calls on pastors for social distancing ahead of Easter church services

Mayor Sylvester Turner
Mayor Sylvester Turner (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner called on pastors and faith-based leaders on Wednesday to keep Houstonians safe via social distancing as the coronavirus pandemic impacts Houston.

During a news conference with the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and Vicinity, Turner highlighted the news that seven of the 11 people who have died in Houston were African-American, two were Hispanic and two were Caucasian. The virus, Turner noted, seems to be affecting people “on the margins of life” with underlying issues.

Houston Health Department (Houston Health Department)

“They go to work out. for many of them, they don’t have the luxury of being able to work remotely at home. They’re out there in the restaurants,you know, fast food places. They are out there, the janitors and others who are cleaning up. They’re out there on the front lines. They’re in the grocery stores. ... For many people of color, they don’t have the luxury of going home and working remotely from home, so they’re exposing themselves. The providers, people who are going in people’s homes, taking care of people. Many of those individuals are people of color. And they’re going into people’s homes. They don’t have the masks. They’re not being provided the masks."

“So it’s important for us to do as much as we can to educate them, to provide them with the services and support they need,” Turner continued. "To be responsible for them. To reach out into these communities and assist them in every way possible. To be sensitive to the fact that for many of these people, they were already on the margins of life in the first place. Harvey pushed them down and here comes the coronavirus. So we have to go that extra mile to do what we can to lift them up and to embrace and support them. And that’s why I’m so especially appreciative of leaders that I am standing with today because many of those people that we are talking about are in their churches and a part of their congregations.”

He called on the gathered leaders to protect those vulnerable communities this Holy Week, particularly in coordinating efforts in their congregations to avoid large crowds as the world celebrates the Easter holiday.

“There is no group of leader -- and I would include myself -- that people will listen to more so than the pastors and the faith-based leaders themselves. Because as you say, the sheep know the shepherd’s voice. They will respond to you quicker than they will respond to me. ... We will come through it, and as my mom would say, this too shall pass.”

Watch the full press conference with the mayor and faith leaders in the video below.

WATCH LIVE: Mayor Sylvester Turner discusses COVID-19 and church services and activities for the upcoming Easter Weekend. MORE-->

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

About the Author:

An Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist, Amanda Cochran is a Houston transplant from New York City who has embraced her new city with both arms -- living and breathing news and all things Texas.