Oprah Winfrey will discuss the virus' "deadly impact on black America" in Tuesday's episode of Oprah Talks COVID-19

By Georgia Slater
April 14, 2020 10:49 AM
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Oprah Winfrey is raising concerns about the serious toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on the African American community.

On Monday, the media mogul announced that the latest episode of her Oprah Talks COVID-19 series will focus on how the illness is “having a deadly impact on black America” and why it is more necessary than ever that people understand the seriousness of the disease.

“This coronavirus is shaking up the world,” Winfrey warned in a message on Twitter. “I hope you’ll join me to understand why COVID-19 is having such a deadly impact on black America as I speak to leaders in our community and family members who are having to bury their dead alone.”

In the episode — which will air Tuesday at 11 p.m. EST on the Oprah Winfrey Network and AppleTV+ — the 66-year-old will speak to “leaders, doctors, journalists, & REAL people suffering in this pandemic.”

Winfrey also appeared on Today Tuesday, where she further opened up to Hoda Kotb about how the novel coronavirus is “ravaging” the black community.

“Not only is it serious, but people that you don’t know, but probably will know, are losing their loved ones,” she explained.

Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Winfrey went on to note that part of the reason the virus is so closely impacting the African American community is due to the front line workforce.

“We as a people, as African Americans, have jobs that require us to be at work,” she said. “For so many African Americans, there isn’t this ability to telecommute.”

Credit: Jeff Hahne/Getty

“We certainly understand that the responsibilities and dynamics of some people’s lives, particularly African American and brown people, do not allow you to be able to stay at home,” Winfrey continued. “Therefore, they need masks … All these grocery store workers who are out there without the masks … that should not be. For now everybody needs to look out for themselves and for their neighbors.”

The television personality said her special will also discuss the importance of ramping up testing.

“One of the things we’re talking about in the special is the need for more testing stations obviously, but more importantly I think it’s important for African Americans to understand for ourselves that this is so serious,” she said.

“It’s taking us out,” Winfrey cautioned of the African American community. “It’s killing your cousins and your friends and your neighbors. And you need to do whatever you can to protect yourself.”

Not only is Winfrey starting a major conversation about the coronavirus, but she also opened her wallet to support those in need.

Last week, the former talk show host announced that she is donating $10 million to COVID-19 relief efforts — $1 million of which will help those facing food insecurity during the pandemic.

In an IGTV post, Winfrey spoke with chef José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen, and Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, to reveal her donation. The $1 million will benefit America’s Food Fund, a new initiative launched to help feed local communities during this time. (The remaining $9 million will be divided among charities close to Winfrey’s heart including Minnie’s Food Pantry in Plano, Texas and the Boys and Girls Club in Kosciusko, Mississippi.)

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.