The narrative coming out of the state of Georgia is disturbing. As Governor Brian Kemp relaxes restrictions on businesses, researchers are finding that the toll the coronavirus is taking on the Black community is even more troubling than previously stated.

The Washington Post reports that a new study surveying eight Georgia hospitals, seven of which were in the metro Atlanta area, found more than 80 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations were Black people. The research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was conducted on 305 people throughout the month of March and highlights a concerning trend seen in states throughout the country.

“Given the overrepresentation of Black patients within this hospitalized cohort, it is important for public health officials to ensure that prevention activities prioritize communities and racial/ethnic groups most affected by COVID-19,” researchers wrote. “Public officials should consider racial differences among patients affected by COVID-19 when planning prevention activities.”

Earlier this week ESSENCE reported on the spike in coronavirus cases coming out of the state just days after the reopening of nonessential businesses. Over the weekend, there were more than 1,000 newly infected and 20 reported deaths. Those numbers have continued to rise. 

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In an interview with Tamron Hall this week, prior to the release of the shocking 80 percent figure, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said her heart sank when she saw that hair salons had decided to reopen. “It is so surprising to me that people have such a disregard for the science and the data, especially when you look at the African-American community, where there is a barbershop and hair salon on every single corner,” Bottoms lamented.

A previous WaPo report showed that outside of Atlanta, Kemp’s decision was also hurting the state’s southwest region, where the hardest-hit areas are majority Black and roughly 30 percent live in poverty. These areas often lack access to proper medical care and have a high rate of uninsured residents.

In a statement to Governor Kemp, Georgia NAACP leaders said, “We call upon our local political leaders to continue to work on behalf of all Georgia citizens, and especially its most vulnerable citizens who need and deserve reparative outreach and service.”