Oprah Winfrey talks the 'devastating' impact of COVID-19 on black communities

The TV host wants to "help people on the other side of this."

April 14, 2020, 9:34 AM

Oprah Winfrey is speaking out about COVID-19's "devastating"impact on the black community in the United States.

The iconic talk show host -- who has already donated $10 million to coronavirus relief -- told ABC News' T.J. Holmes on Monday's "Good Morning America" it's "our responsibility" to convey to black Americans they are at a higher risk of contracting -- and even dying from -- the disease if they have preexisting conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or asthma.

"You know, for myself, I had pneumonia back in August," Winfrey, 66, explained. "So I consider that a preexisting condition because I've been trying to get rid of this bronchial thing since so I heard it like, 'Whoo, all right, I'm going to be more susceptible.'"

It's Winfrey's own health scare last year that led to her quarantining away from longtime partner Stedman Graham, who she said refused to cancel speaking engagements and continued to travel around the U.S. for them while the virus began to take root.

When Graham arrived home to begin socially distancing like everyone else, Winfrey put him in the guest house and they celebrated his return to the main house two weeks later.

Winfrey said she believes Graham didn't believe -- like many others -- the entire country could be shut down like it has "because none of us have ever seen anything like this before."

As for whether or not "The Color Purple" actress was surprised people were surprised to learn about the coronavirus disproportionately affecting people of color in cities like Chicago and states like Louisiana, she wasn't. But now it's her aim to get people to listen.

"What I do know is that there is a way to connect to the community in such a way and using language that people stop and pay attention to," Winfrey added.

To do this, Winfrey will highlight the coronavirus' health disparities on her Apple TV+ series "Oprah Talks COVID-19," in a special episode titled "The Deadly Impact on Black America."

"I think this is just the beginning. I think that whatever you're feeling -- isolated, anxious, feeling like you want to get on with your life, want to get things back to normal, we're not going to get back to normal, we're going to get back to a new normal," Winfrey continued.

"And for a lot of people that new normal is going to be devastation," Winfrey concluded. "And I'm just looking at my life and seeing how I can use what I have, what I know, who I have access to, what I have access to, to be able to help people on the other side of this."

"Oprah Talks COVID-19 - The Deadly Impact on Black America" is available now for free on Apple TV+ and will also air tonight on OWN.

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