Tyler Perry urges black community to take coronavirus seriously after losing crew member

ATLANTA — Atlanta-based movie mogul Tyler Perry is urging the black community to take the coronavirus seriously after losing one of his crew members.

Perry wrote a post on Instagram Thursday, announcing the death of hairstylist Charles Gregory.

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Dear Black People, Today it’s with a heavy heart that I inform you of the passing of one of our crew members. Mr. Charles Gregory was a hairstylist that had worked with us for many years. The man was warm, loving and hilarious. We all loved to see him coming and hear his laughter. Charles lost his battle with COVID-19 today. It saddens me to think of him dying this way. My sincerest prayers are with his family. While everyone can contract this virus it is black people who are dying from it in much larger numbers. This thing is real, black people. I heard a black person say, “Black people don’t get it.” That is a lie! You can get it, and you will get it if we don’t do what we're being told to do. A 26 year old black woman died the other day, a 44 year old black man died the other day, not to mention the hundreds of people that are dying every few minutes. Your age does not matter!! Your health does not matter. You could be totally healthy, and you could die! Now listen to me. You have been right by my side since I started in this business, so please hear me with your heart. I LOVE US. I love our humor. I love our culture. I love our hair. I love our skin. I love everything about who we are. All of us. And I love us all too much to watch us die on the vine because we are the last to know and we are not taking this pandemic seriously. Black people, we are at a disproportionately higher risk of dying from this virus. Please, please, please, I beg you to take this seriously. You have to socially distance yourself. That means stop hanging out, stop congregating, stop doing anything that will put not only your life in danger but also the lives of so many others. STAY HOME!! Socially distance yourself and stay alive! If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for someone you love, and for those who love you. My Mother always told me to not wait for help! Be your own help!

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“The man was warm, loving and hilarious. We all loved to see him coming and hear his laughter,” Perry wrote. “Charles lost his battle with COVID-19 today.”

Perry went on to urge the black community to stay home and heed precautions.

Perry cited studies that suggest the black community is at a disproportionately higher risk of dying from the virus and begged the community to practice social distancing.

"You have to socially distance yourself," Perry wrote. "That means stop hanging out, stop congregating, stop doing anything that will put not only your life in danger but also the lives of so many others."

As of Saturday night, nearly 3,000 African American people in Georgia had contracted the coronavirus compared to 1,926 white people.