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Mt. Zion pastor seeks answers after mother denied test, then diagnosed with COVID19

Rev. Marcus Allen. Screen capture via Facebook.

The mother of Mt. Zion Baptist Church Pastor Marcus Allen has been diagnosed with COVID19, but only after two weeks of being told she couldn’t be tested, Allen announced in an emotional Facebook Live video on Easter Sunday afternoon.

“Preaching today was heavy,” said Allen, who has been delivering sermons via online video during the pandemic. “My mom has the coronavirus and I’ve been down about it. It’s been real painful.”

Allen said the experience made him believe the disease is hitting Black people the hardest in Milwaukee not only because of underlying health issues, but a lack of testing and treatment for Black people.

Allen said his mother, who is 55 years old, began showing symptoms two weeks ago — mainly a cough and shortness of breath.

By Thursday of last week, though, she had a fever of 103 and an ear infection as well.

Allen said he urged his mother’s fiancee to call 911, but when paramedics arrived, not only did they decline to take her in for a coronavirus test — they advised her not to go to the hospital.

“She has an ear infection, she has a fever, she has a cough, she has shortness of breath, but no one thinks it was important for her to get tested for COVID-19,” he said.

Allen said he called his mother’s primary care doctor on Friday, and finally she did get tested for COVID19. On Saturday, the results came back positive, and she has now been hospitalized. She is not on a ventilator, Allen said, but is receiving oxygen and close observation.

While the population of Milwaukee County is about 16 percent Black, more than 27 percent of those who’ve tested positive for coronavirus infection are Black. Even more troubling, nearly half of those who’ve died from the disease were Black.

Allen said that’s not just attributable to Black people being less healthy in general.

“Now we’ve been watching the news. We’ve been hearing people say black people are dying because of underlying conditions, right? That’s what we’ve been hearing,” he said. “Black people are dying because of underlying conditions. Black people that I have seen, with my own mother that hurts me so bad, can’t even get fair treatment from medical professionals … Now, if she was in an affluent neighborhood, went to an affluent primary care doctor, I’m pretty sure when they first go into the doctor with a severe cough, they would have tested her for COVID-19. But since that’s not the case, they let my mom go two weeks without even testing her and she’s showing most of the symptoms. … She had a 103 (degree) fever. She had a severe cough, severe shortness of breath, an ear infection, and no one thought that she should be tested. They’re saying Black people are dying because of underlying conditions, but black people are dying because they’re not getting the proper treatment. I’m talking about my mama. This is what I’ve seen. That’s what we’ve experienced for the last two weeks.”

Allen said his aunt, also from Milwaukee, had been diagnosed with COVID19 as well, but “she’s coming on the back side of it now.” 

Allen said he intends to reach out to people in positions of power looking for answers.

“(Monday) I’m calling the mayor’s office in Milwaukee. I’m calling the County supervisors and I’m calling the fire department to see, why would they advise my mom not to go to the hospital?” he said. “So they got to give me some answers and preferably the answers that I want to hear. I just want to know why she wasn’t treated with basic decency. And it’s not like this is news. Not like this just came, this just happened. Milwaukee has been a hotspot for a while now, before they even put in this stay at home order. It’s been a hot spot.”

Madison365 reached out to both the Milwaukee Health Department and state Department of Health Services by email on Sunday afternoon to ask whether the paramedics acted within state guidelines when they visited Allen’s mother on Thursday, but neither had responded by 10 am Monday.

“I’ve cried my tears, but right now I’m upset,” Allen said.