COVID-19 In 2021: The Latest Updates, Facts And News Impacting The Global Black Community reports on the information you need to know.

As the fight against coronavirus pandemic continues, provides updated information about the vaccine, testing, and the progress made by health officials and the U.S. federal government and efforts across the Black Diaspora. 

Check back daily for updates on what is being done to help the Black community survive and plans to end the pandemic. For more information, read last year’s Coronavirus Blog.


New Relaxed CDC Mask Guideline News Comes Amid Improvements In Vaccinating Black People

May 15, 2020
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention’s new mask guidance announcement is being celebrated as a major step toward returning to normalcy after more than a year of confinement from fear of coronavirus spread.
The change is allowing fully vaccinated people to gather in most indoor and outdoor spaces,  and that comes as vaccinations for minority communities slowly move toward better parity with the white population.

According to The New York Times, although Black and Hispanic people have gotten a smaller number of vaccine shots so far, state and federal data shows that things are beginning to improve.  Since march, the data says, almost every state reporting the racial background of the vaccinated, reported that the number Black people in that number rise, coming closer to the total number of that group in the U.S. population.
For example in Mississippi, in March, Black people represented 26 percent of those vaccinated, but by May they were 34 percent, although still short of their population figure of 38 percent.
“It’s a great example of what’s possible when you listen to communities and let them lead,” Dr. Cameron Webb, the White House senior policy adviser for Covid-19 equity, told the Times in reference to Mississippi. “Really it’s been attributed to the role of Black health care providers, faith leaders and community leaders.”
Meanwhile, officials hope that the relaxing of mask rules by the CDC will encourage more people to seek vaccination against COVID-19 with the ability to gather in ways they could before the pandemic as incentive. By Thursday, 155 million people had received at least one dose of the vaccine but only 119 people had been fully vaccinated.
“We have all longed for this moment,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, at a Thursday White House news conference. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
The new guidelines released by the CDC is below:

Some African Nations Having Trouble With Distributing COVID Vaccine

May 7, 2021
Countries in Africa including Malawi, and South Sudan are reporting that they have tens of thousands of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that they either cannot use or are past their expiration dates. In the Democratic Republic of Congo more than 1 million doses received under the Covax plan for developing nations cannot be used.

The BBC reports that some nations are not aware of the expiration dates, while others like others like Nigeria say they will not be able to use all the doses in time and have sent them to nations as close as Togo and Ghana and as far away as Jamaica.
But World Health Organization officials say some nations were not prepared to receive the vaccine and distribute it properly.
"That is one of the reasons we are seeing the slow pace of rollout," said Phionah Atuhebwe, an immunization expert with WHO in Africa.

John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control told the BBC more support is needed toward health workers and supplies including protective equipment.
"The continent as a whole knows how to vaccinate and has been vaccinating for other diseases," he said. "But the key is how do you scale that up - and... at speed?"
But also vaccine hesitancy is also playing a role with the doses not being given.
"The government did the best they could - but perhaps the general public has not been as receptive as was expected," said Gama Bandawe, a virologist in Malawi.
A study conducted by Africa CDC showed that  20% of respondents said they won’t take the vaccine, but the number varied from nation to nation with below 10 percent in Ethiopia to Niger and Tunisia to as much as 41 percent in DR Congo.

New CDC Guidelines Relax Outdoor Mask Wearing Rules For People Who Are Fully Vaccinated
April 27, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced new guidelines that will allow people who have been fully vaccinated to resume outdoor activities without having to wear a mask.
According to the new information, which is based on the most recent science, “interim public health recommendations” show several situations that relax old rules for mask wearing including participating in outdoor activities like running or biking with household members, or other vaccinated people. In other activities, however, the CDC still recommends unvaccinated people continue to wear masks. Also, mask wearing is still recommended for indoor activities for everyone.
"Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in a Tuesday afternoon briefing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

After the CDC announcement, President Biden appeared outside, without a mask, to speak briefly about it, saying that the nation has made “stunning progress” in reducing the number of transmissions and deaths from coronavirus moving everyone closer to a July 4 goal of resuming much of the normalcy from prior to 2020.
"The bottom line is clear: If you're vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors," Biden said. "So for those who haven't gotten their vaccination yet, especially if you're younger or thinking you don't need it, this is another great reason to go get vaccinated — now!"
The Biden administration announced earlier in April that all people ages 16 and older are now eligible to receive vaccinations.

Black Youth Numbers In Juvenile Detention See Increase During Coronavirus Pandemic

April 27, 2021
The number of Black youths housed in juvenile facilities through the COVID-19 pandemic went to a record high in January, while the number of white youths dropped to a record low, according to a new study.
A monthly analysis by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that by the beginning of February, white juveniles had been in detention for less time than their Black counterparts, who had also been in the facilities for longer periods than they were before the beginning of the pandemic.

Among the major findings of the survey were:
• Detention releases were slower in January than any month since the beginning of the pandemic, particularly for Black and Latino youths.
• The Black population in youth detention grew 14 percent and Latino population grew 2 percent. At the same time, the population of white, non-Latino youths fell 6 percent.
• The overall population of youths in detention during the pandemic grew by more than 6 percent from May 1 to Feb. 1, led by Black and Latino youth having longer stays in the facilities.
“Jurisdictions have told us they think that longer lengths of stay in detention are being driven by a detention population that now only contains youth with the most serious offenses and complex cases,” Nate Balis, director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group, said on the organization’s website.. “If that’s so for all racial and ethnic groups, then jurisdictions must determine why it’s primarily Black and Latino youth who seem to be getting stuck in detention.”

Mike Bloomberg Gives $6 Million to HBCU Med Schools To Help With COVID-19 Vaccinations

April 15, 2020
Four HBCU medical schools will be receiving $6 million to advance vaccines initiatives among communities of color, the Associated Press reported.
Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropy announced that $2.1 million would be going to Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta; $1.6 million to Charles Drew University of Medicine in Los Angeles; $1.6 million to Howard University College of Medicine in Washington D.C., and $869,000 to Meharry Medical College in Nashville.
Several months ago, Bloomberg had announced that he would give the schools $100 million over the next four years. Grants would go toward helping to pay the student debts of 800 students. The billionaire media magnate, who ran for president in 2020, pledged $34 million to Meharry; $32.8 million to Howard; $26.3 million to Morehouse; and $7.7 million to Charles Drew.
The money to each school will go toward purchasing more vaccination units to that community outreach can continue. The units help keep the vaccines refrigerated.
“COVID-19 has been devastating to the health and economic wellbeing of many Black families – and right now, increasing equitable access to vaccines is one way we can serve the needs of those who need it most,” said Bloomberg in a statement.
Valerie Montgomery Rice, president of Morehouse School of Medicine told the AP that although her school has vaccinated 5,200 people, the extra funds will allow giving shots to and additional 500 to 1,000 people per week.
“We have been doing this at a snail’s pace, but with these additional monies, we are able to hire additional people,” said Rice.
RELATED: What the Morehouse School of Medicine President Says About The COVID-19 Vaccine



Mississippi Sees Encouraging Figures On Vaccinations for Black Population

April 7, 2020

Mississippi is apparently exceeding national trends when it comes to the rate of vaccinating African Americans against coronavirus, according to newly released figures.
The University of Mississippi’s campus newspaper, The Daily Mississippian reports that with a 38 percent Black population, 30 percent of the state’s vaccines have gone to Black people, data from the Mississippi State Department of Health shows. Figures from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 8 percent of Black Americans have taken their first vaccine shot and 7 percent have had both.
Nationwide disparities in vaccinations show the white population is nearly twice as likely to have received the shots.

Thomas Dobbs, state health officer for the MSDH, gave praise to community leadership for getting the word out about the benefits of the vaccines.
“I have to give (community partners) the credit in large measure because they understood the value it was for their communities,” Dobbs said, according to Mississippi Today. “They stepped up and they got vaccinated, they did it publicly and they spoke about it. And they let us know what we need to do as far as making vaccines available within their communities.”

The encouraging number of vaccinations among Black Mississippians is a turnaround from attitudes about the drugs just a short while ago. An MSDH survey conducted in February showed 21 percent of African Americans in the state were leaning against getting the shots. Another 21 percent were not sure.
But 70 percent Black people in Mississippi getting vaccinations started receiving them from public health centers and at hemodialysis centers. About 18 percent of Mississippians receiving the shots at drive-thru sites were Black.
African American community leaders, whether in churches or at doctors’ offices led the call to change attitudes about vaccine hesitancy. Jerry Young, Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, and president of the National Baptist Convention participated in an event sponsored by the MSDH which broadcast pastors taking their first shots. That led to further partnerships between the faith community and the medical community to break down hesitancy barriers.
“I am convinced, as are many of the faith leaders, that we have moved beyond that attitude of hesitancy to a problem of access, no question about it,” Young told Mississippi Today.
“It’s about leadership, and in our community it’s extremely important for those of us who have that kind of trust to lead by example,” he continued. “That’s from pastors working together from the Gulf Coast all the way up to Southaven.”

Richmond Establishes ‘Community Hubs’ To Distribute Vaccines To Communities of Color

March 19, 2020

As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out nationwide, disparities remain in getting the medicine to the populations that need them most. But health officials in the Richmond, Va., area have come up with a clever method of distributing the needed shots.
The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts are partnering with faith-based organizations and nonprofits to establish “Community Hubs” to establish outreach and opportunities to get vaccinated, according to information provided by the Virginia Department of Health.
The Community Hubs will operate in various districts for six weeks each and six of them will operate throughout Richmond and Henrico through the Spring and Summer. The first one was set up at a Second Baptist Church on Richmond’s southside, and as of March 6 had vaccinated 1,400 people.
“Pastor [Ralph Steven] Hodge and our 95-year-old church mother were the first to be vaccinated at our church,” Pastor Marc Jolley of Second Baptist told the Richmond Times Dispatch. “This set the stage for other seniors and baby boomers.”
About  1 in 3 vaccine recipients in Richmond are Black or Latino. Combined the two groups are 64 percent of the city’s coronavirus cases and 81 percent of hospitalizations, the Times Dispatch said. In fact, three particular ZIP codes there are the farthest from vaccination sites at the Richmond Raceway and Arthur Ashe Center, but represent half of the coronavirus cases in the city. They also have the largest number of people of color there.
Health officials have established a mass vaccination site at Celebration Church in a largely Latino area. It will operate in tandem with Second Baptist in getting people informed and vaccinated.
“It’s a logical location,” James Reid, a pastor at Celebration Church told the Times Dispatch. “We just like serving the community. That’s where our heart is and what we do.”

Vaccinated People Are Able To Gather Without Masks, CDC Announces
March 8, 2020
Federal Health officials say that fully vaccinated people are able to gather indoors with others who are vaccinated without wearing a mask.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the announcement on Monday, which addresses questions from people who have received their vaccine doses about what they are able to do socially, or if they can return to some of the things they did before the pandemic.
“We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said in a statement.
Also, vaccinated people can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household (for example, family members who live under one roof), unless anyone they live with is at increased COVID-19 risk. They can also refrain from quarantining and testing after a known exposure if they are asymptomatic.
However in public, people who are fully vaccinate, as well as others, should continue to observe precautions to prevent coronavirus spread like wearing a mask, social distancing and frequent hand washing and also avoid large gatherings.

“There are some activities that fully vaccinated people can begin to resume now in their own homes. Everyone – even those who are vaccinated – should continue with all mitigation strategies when in public settings,” Walensky said. “As the science evolves and more people get vaccinated, we will continue to provide more guidance to help fully vaccinated people safely resume more activities.”

Johnson & Johnson One-Shot Coronavirus Vaccine Is Deemed Effective

Feb. 24, 2020
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says Johnson & Johnson’s single dose vaccine is safe to use and can protect against transmission of coronavirus. That moves analysis of the drug along toward independent advisors who will determine if it can be recommended for use, CBS News reports. If that happens, the agency will make a decision on greenlighting it.
FDA scientists say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66 percent effective at guarding against moderate to severe COVID-19, and that it meets requirements for emergency use authorization.
The company tested the single-dose drug on 44,000 people in the United States, Latin America and South Africa. Researchers with the company said the vaccine worked best in the U.S., at 72% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19, compared with 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa, according to a statement from the company in January.
The two-shot vaccines available in the U.S., from Moderna and Pfizer are harder to handle because they must be kept frozen but the J&J singe-shot drug can be kept in the refrigerator for three weeks. Another vaccine, made by AstraZeneca, can also be refrigerated, but like the other two available, it requires two shots. This has contributed to a lack of availability of the vaccine in many places, complicated by rough weather conditions around the country.
If J&J’s shot is cleared, it still won’t boost vaccine availability. Nationwide about 130 million doses have been administered, primarily to the elderly, front line workers  and others who qualify, but demand is growing as numbers of new infections begin to decline.
But the company expects to fall short of the promised 10 million doses it said it would have available by the end of February. Less than 4 million doses are available to ship. That realization comes as the country surpassed the grim milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths this week.

Baltimore Leaders Facing Fight To Get Black Community Vaccinated Against Coronavirus
Feb. 23, 2020
Racial disparities are persisting between Americans when it comes to receiving the coronavirus vaccine. Nationwide race demographics are known for 54.4 percent of people who had taken at least one dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of this number, 64 percent was white, while 6.4 percent were Black. That apparently reflects factors of mistrust and lack of access widely reported among the Black community, affecting getting the vaccine.
Baltimore is an example of what has been happening with Black people and the vaccine. African Americans are 62 percent of the population, but make up only 32 percent of vaccinations, CBS News reports.
The barriers in that city are a challenge to overcome and there are multiple factors that play a role in vaccine inequity. Watch the CBS This Morning report below for a report on how the community is dealing with it.


Black Life Expectancy Drops In First Half of 2020 Due To Coronavirus

Feb. 17, 2020
Among the many detrimental effects of the coronavirus is the reduction of life expectancy, new federal data released last week reports, according to the PBS NewsHour.

The study, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, shows between January and June 2020, U.S. life expectancy dropped by a full year. But the group hit hardest within the demographic data are Black men.
Public health officials have long known that the African American community is disproportionately affected by coronavirus because of the prevalence of pre-existing conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart disease that the virus exacerbates and exploits.
But it has affected Black men so severely  that life expectancy has reduced to levels similar to two of the peak years of World War II, 1942 and 1943. At that time, average American lifespan dropped to about 2.9 years. For Black women, according to the data, the number currently is about 2.4 years.
Gains in Black American life expectancy had been increasing for several generations. In 1900, for example, Black people were living 14 years shorter than white people. By 2019, though there was still a discrepancy , the gap was down to 4.1 years.
Now due to the coronavirus pandemic, the gap for Black Americans is now at  six years.
“This kind of excess mortality is representing structural inequalities that have existed for a long time that increase both the risk of exposure to virus and the risk of dying from the virus,” said Noreen Goldman, professor of demography and public affairs at Princeton University’s Office of Population Research.
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Vaccine Skepticism Harkens Back To Racist Experiments, Challenging Efforts To Get It To People

Feb. 9, 2021
Apprehension in the Black community about taking the coronavirus vaccine is now well known. It is also clear why: fears from past history about racist scientific experiments with Black lives by medical researchers.
One of the most typically cited episodes of these incidents is the Tuskegee Experiment in which a group of Black men in Tuskegee, Ala who were infected with syphilis went without treatment in a study that lasted from 1932 to 1972, despite being told they were being treated for “bad blood.”
But a little known event that has residents of Savannah, Ga., wary is the mosquito experiments of the 1950s, in one, known as “Operation Big Buzz,” the U.S. military released hundreds of thousands yellow fever mosquitoes, experimenting with entomological warfare.
The point of the experiment was to gauge the feasibility of breeding, storing and placing the insects into munitions for warfare purposes.  Many believed the insects were infected with disease, although none of them were and there were no reports of anyone contracting the disease as a result.
In “Operation Big Buzz” the U.S. Army Chemical Corps released uninfected female mosquitoes into  Savannah’s Carver Village in 1956 and later estimated the number that entered homes and bit victims.
Declassified files from the military say that residents cooperated in the experiment, but Chatham County Commission Chairman Chester Ellis contradicted that.
“They didn’t tell anybody, and it happened,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And so that leaves some apprehension, especially when you have residents of that area who’ve been there since the ’50s.
“And so my job as neighborhood president, and also as chairman of the County Commission, is to kind of calm the storm down to let them know that this vaccination is not like that,” Ellis explained.
The AJC reports that a Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that 43 percent of Blacks have taken a “wait-and-see” approach to getting vaccinated against COVID-19. That makes sense given things like the Tuskegee Experiment and “Operation Big Buzz”
“This has been the only system of America that American descendants of slaves know, and therefore there are automatic cautions to survival,” Savannah activist Natavia Sanders told the AJC.

Ellis, who is seeking historic designation for Carver Village, says that although the mosquitoes were not supposed to have been infected, he believes they were infected with malaria, although the military document says they were uninfected yellow fever mosquitoes.
In Georgia, Black people are 32.6 percent of the population, but 36 percent of all coronavirus deaths. Because of this Ellis encourages Black people to take the vaccine when they are eligible.
“African Americans are dying at a higher rate,” said Ellis, who has taken the vaccine. “And so it behooves us to take the vaccine, especially since the new strains coming out, across the water now is more infectious, and is much easier to spread.
“We ought to have a higher rate of African Americans having the vaccine,” he continued. “And there’s not an experiment on anybody, because they’ve given it to everyone. It’s just that we are more vulnerable.”
That means he is concerned about people getting access to the vaccine, which has become a nationwide problem.
“Folks in the deprived neighborhoods, they just don’t have the transportation to get to the health department,” Ellis said. “So that becomes a challenge for them, more than remembering about Big Buzz.”

Tyler Perry Asks Questions, Gets Answers About Coronavirus Vaccine -- Then Takes The Shot
Jan. 27, 2021
Filmmaker Tyler Perry was once skeptical about taking the coronavirus vaccine, a skepticism he shared with many in the Black community given the history of racism in medical practice.
But he also knows that Black Americans are disproportionately affected by the pandemic with Black, Hispanic and Native Americans, dying at almost three times the rate of white Americans, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What’s more, one in three Black Americans are hesitant about getting the vaccine.
“I was skeptical because if you look at our history in this country with the Tuskegee ExperimentHenrietta Lacks and things like that, it raises flags for us as African American people so I understand why there’s a healthy skepticism about the vaccine,” he told Gayle King on CBS This Morning.
RELATED: Black Americans Are Being Vaccinated For COVID-19 At A Much Lower Rate

So when doctors from Grady Health System in Atlanta approached him about publicly taking the vaccine, rather than shunning it, he began to ask questions and decided to put it all together in a special airing on BET on Thursday  (Jan 28) at 9 p.m.
He got specific with doctors and asked them to explain medical jargon in layman’s terms so that both he and the public can understand what the vaccine is and is not.

“I wanted to understand the technology. I mean, we talked about everything from the Spanish Flu of 1918 to what is happening now to where it came from,” said Perry. “But I think my top question was understanding mRNA technology and Dr. Kimberly Manning and Dr. [Carlos] Del Rio did an amazing job at explaining how this new technology has helped to come up with a vaccine so quickly.”
Perry said that when he heard terms like “warp speed,” referring to the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed initiative to deliver a vaccine to the public, he became concerned. That same concern also fueled skepticism among Black people about a drug developed so fast, when typically it takes years for a vaccine to make it from the lab to clinics.
“This last administration and all the pressure they were putting on the CDC and FDA, I didn’t really feel like I could trust it but once I got all the information, found out the researchers, I was very, very happy.”

A study from Kaiser Health News shows that Black people in America are getting vaccinated at much lower rates than white people. Roughly three percent of Americans have been administered at least their first dose of the vaccine, but among states that release data by race, whites outpace African Americans by as much as two to three times as much.
“My concern now is if we don’t vaccinate the population that’s highest-risk, we’re going to see even more disproportional deaths in Black and brown communities,” said Dr. Fola May who is a health equity researcher at UCLA.
Perry’s special is aimed at addressing the concerns of Black people when it comes to getting vaccinated by showing the facts and dispelling myths and disinformation. He says getting top medical professionals like Manning and Del Rio to help him communicate the message will help build confidence.
“I've got people who love what I do and kind of follow me, so I think once they get the information that it will help them,” he said. “What I told them is I’m not taking this vaccine because I want you to take it, I want to give you the information so you can make your own choices. So I think that's what it's about, education and information.”
During the special, Perry himself is administered the Pfizer vaccine and said he had no significant adverse reaction outside of a few aches after his second shot. But he’s glad he took it.
“So you're making the choice of getting a vaccine,” he said. “ And,even though it's 95, 96 percent efficacy, what happens is you are reducing your chances of ending up in the ICU by 100 percent.”
“COVID-19 Vaccine and the Black Community: A Tyler Perry Special” airs at 9 p.m., Thursday Jan. 29 on BET and BET Her.
For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Black Doctors Seeking To Address Coronavirus Vaccine Hesitancy With Real Communication
Jan. 26, 2021
Doctors with the National Medical Association, an organization of Black physicians, say they want to take a lead role in addressing the concerns of the African American community about coronavirus vaccines.
Having formed a task force in the last months of the Trump administration, the doctors gave their endorsements of the emergency authorizations for the Pfizer and Moderna drugs, which are currently being administered to front line healthcare workers and the elderly.
But now they are working to create trust with the community in hopes of getting more people to be willing to take the vaccine.
“We realize that Black people are at the highest risk for coronavirus but the least likely to want to take the vaccine, so we’re trying to reverse that,” said Rodney Hood, an NMA doctor who is on the task force told STAT, a medical news website.
RELATED: Black Doctors Are Endorsing ‘Safe And Effective’ COVID-19 Vaccine
Doctors also understand the hesitancy of Black people to take the vaccine given the history of racism in medicine. Gabrielle Perry, a New Orleans clinical epidemiologist, who isn’t with the NMA explained the conflict between that and convincing a reluctant community.
“Medical professionals have to understand that the fear of Covid-19, which is this invisible, looming foe, that fear does not always outweigh the very clear and well-documented danger of going to a health care system that has proven itself to be as deadly as disease,” Perry told STAT. “You can’t look at that hesitancy at face value. Centuries of inhumanity — that’s not easily forgotten.”
So NMA officials say they have heard a flurry of concerns about what the vaccines are, what impact they can have and what worries people.
“I’ve been on a town hall just about every day,” said NMA president Leon McDougle, NMA president and chief diversity officer at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
He told STAT the multiple meetings with community organizations, churches and other groups turn into more questions that his group asks. “These convenings are also informing discussions with the pharmaceutical company scientists that are producing the vaccines, so that when we meet with them, these are questions we can ask.”
For example, there was a concern that the vaccine might cause infertility, but even though that did not seem plausible, they did put the question to pharmaceutical companies producing the vaccine.
“There was some concern that the vaccine was going to be geared to Blacks and that it would cause infertility. That was more of a myth, but we felt it was responsible to ask them about that,” said Hood, who is an internal medicine doctor at San Ysidro Health in Southern California. “They said there was no data showing that.”
The task force has also taken on questions about how other ailments like sickle cell disease or HIV would impact vaccine safety or efficacy. After meeting with two of the major pharmaceutical companies producing the drugs, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, it turns out vaccine trials that had people with those diseases showed no adverse effect, but officials will continue to follow them, said McDougle.
So there is hope that communication about the vaccines that Black people can trust will circulate. But the method is something the doctors say they will be attentive to.
“When we look at all these online strategies — campaigns on social media, a chatbot — we don’t really know yet what is really effective,” Ève Dubé senior researcher at the Québec National Institute of Public Health and anthropologist at Laval University in Canada told STAT. “When it’s someone you know, your doctor, your nurse, your neighbor, your priest, we know that that’s what’s the most effective.”


Amazon Offers Help In Getting Americans Vaccinated Against COVID-19

The Biden administration was reportedly given a coronavirus vaccine plan that was “complete incompetence.” But he is now getting assistance in making change. 

Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Dave Clark wrote a letter written to Biden on the new president’s first day in office, "Amazon stands ready to assist you in reaching your goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of your administration.” 

Clark continued, “We have an agreement in place with a licensed third-party occupational health care provider to administer vaccines on-site at our Amazon facilities. We are prepared to move quickly once vaccines are available. Additionally, we are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration's vaccination efforts.”

RELATED: Rwanda Uses Robots And Other Efficient Ways To Keep Coronavirus Cases Low

Clark is also asking for Amazon employees to be vaccinated at “the earliest appropriate time” being that they have “over 800,000 employees in the United States, most of whom are essential workers who cannot work from home.” 

Biden has yet to respond to the request.


Africa Hits 3 Million Cases of Coronavirus, With Worries of a Second Wave

Monday, Jan. 11

 When the coronavirus made its global impact in February 2020, Africa as a whole seemed to some how manage to avoid massive rates of the spread of the virus. Now, infected residents have surpassed 3 million cases on the continent resulting in 72,000 deaths. Most of those cases are concentrated in South Africa where a mutation of the virus has been detected that is reportedly more contagious and spreads more quickly, according to health experts.

The nation, the continent’s fifth most populous, has 1.2 million reported cases, including 32,824 deaths, according to the Associated Press, citing figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the high number of cases in South Africa is because health officials there run more tests than other African nations.
The nation’s seven-day rolling average of new cases went from 19.86 per 100,000 on Dec. 26 to 30.18 on Jan. 9, Johns Hopkins University reports. 966,000 were counted as recovered. 

Still the disease has been responsible for much less death in Africa than it has in Europe or the United States. There was a fear in several nations that weakened health care infrastructures would not be able to handle another disease when they were already dealing with several other diseases so officials in countries like Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria locked down countries swiftly and, with the help of entities like the World Health Organization and the Africa C.D.C., which deployed health care workers.

RELATED: Rwanda Uses Robots And Other Efficient Ways To Keep Coronavirus Cases Low

A fear of a second and even third wave are worrying officials in South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to meet this week with his cabinet to weigh the possibility of further measures to halt the spread of the disease. Strict restrictions are already in place including a ban on liquor sales, gathering in public places and shutting down bars.

Despite the relatively low numbers, some in Africa’s health care networks believe things are worse than they seem. “It is possible and very likely that the rate of exposure is much more than what has been reported,” Dr. John N. Nkengasong, the head of Africa C.D.C. told The New York Times.
Meanwhile, South Africa is expecting its first delivery of 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine later in January, the AP says. The priority will be to vaccinate the nation’s health care workers. More doses are expected to come through the WHO’s COVAX vaccine program in April.

Study Shows Blacks More Aggressively Policed For COVID Related Health Violations

Jan. 8, 2021

Black people are four times as likely to be policed and punished for coronavirus violations than whites, a study reveals.
The research, outlined in “Unmasked: Impacts of Pandemic Policing” a report compiled  by the COVID-19 Policing Project, which began last May and published its findings in October, shows that none of the disparities in law enforcement when it comes to people of color diminished since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Not only did the uneven enforcement of Covid-19 public health orders track predictable patterns of policing, it also strengthened and widened the webs of criminalization which ensnare marginalized communities,” the study’s authors Timothy Colman, Pascal Emmer, Andrea Ritchie and Tiffany Wang wrote in an op-ed in The Guardian on Jan. 6. “The Covid-19 Policing Project reviewed public information about enforcement over the past six months and found that Black, Indigenous and people of color (Bipoc) were 2.5 times more likely to be policed and punished for violations of Covid-19 orders than white people. Black people specifically were 4.5 times more likely to be policed and punished for coronavirus orders than white people.”
The researchers’ findings showed that Black women, who have a significant presence in healthcare and essential service jobs, have the highest rates of racial disparities in enforcement of public health orders related to coronavirus. That particular group is five times more likely than white women to face punishment. Black men are 3.7 times as likely as white men to face police action for violations.
Black people  are already disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. According to APM Research Lab, Black and Indigenous populations’ COVID-19 death rate is higher  than 1 in 750. Aggressively policing those populations, the authors say, is not helping an already dire situation.
The way forward through the raging pandemic and devastating economic crisis doesn’t lie in more surveillance, policing and punishment of marginalized communities – it lies in the demands to stop pouring money and resources into policing and start pouring resources into people and communities,” the essay says.

Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images

APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images

Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles County Ambulance Crews Reportedly Ordered To Not Send COVID Patients To The Hospital

Tuesday, Jan. 5: The coronavirus is surging all over the country but Los Angeles, California is being hit so hard that hospitals in the area are reportedly at capacity.

According to a news release from Los Angeles  health officials, the county has jumped from about 400,000 cases on November 30 to more than 800,000 cases on January 2, which is an increase of 905%. You read that right; 905%. And CNN is reporting that one American dies from Covid-19 every 33 seconds.

Additionally, the three-day average number of people hospitalized with coronavirus complications was 7,623. And yet, infection of the virus is not the only ailment impacting the public. There are other people who require treatment whether it is for care because of an accident or a heart attack. Sadly, it is difficult for these patients to receive medical assistance in the midst of this recent surge. 

Hilda Solis, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors told CNN the situation was a "human disaster” and "hospitals are declaring internal disasters and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units.”

RELATED: COVID-19 Vaccine: Dr. Anthony Fauci Gets Why Black People Are Weary After Tuskegee Experiment

CNN also reports that a memo issued to ambulance workers last week read, "Effective immediately, due to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on EMS and 9-1-1 Receiving Hospitals, adult patients (18 years of age or older) in blunt traumatic and nontraumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) shall not be transported [if]return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) is not achieved in the field.” 

If people can be transported to the hospital, there is a long wait. EMT Jimmy Webb told CNN affiliate KCAL, "We are waiting two to four hours minimum to a hospital and now we are having to drive even further... then wait another three hours.”
A quick rollout of the vaccine was expected to curb infections. The Trump administration promised  20 million people vaccinated by New Year's Day. Only 4.6 million have received the vaccine, according to The New York Times.

For the latest on the coronavirus, check out BET’s blog on the virus, and contact your local health department or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Black Texas Lawmaker, Who Is Also A Nurse, Backs Coronavirus Vaccine

Photo Credit: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Monday, Jan. 4, 2021: As the coronavirus vaccine continues to roll out among health care workers and the elderly, skepticism continues to loom in the Black community. After all, there is a long history of inappropriate tests performed on Black people fueled by past racist practices sanctioned by federal and state funded medical and scientific bodies. 

Democratic Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a longtime advocate of sound science and healthcare in the Black community, is stepping out to ease the concerns many African Americans have about the coronavirus vaccine.

"Consult with people who have the credentials to answer the questions — not emotional questions, not political questions, but medical questions,” the Democrat, who represents Dallas, told The Dallas Morning News. “When they get information from people they trust, they will feel confident about it.”
Johnson, became the first registered nurse elected to Congress in 1993, and is also Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. But with experiences steeped in healthcare in the Black community, she says she understands why there is mistrust among so many.
“There’s great skepticism for experimentation,” Johnson told the Morning News. “They have a history of being abused. They have a history of not being included in field testing. I don’t have any doubt that there will be questions.”
Incidents like the infamous Tuskegee Experiment where a group of Black men infected with syphilis were not treated for decades, and the use of Baltimore woman Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells for biomedical research, still resound among African Americans. So there is fear that the experimentation will continue through this vaccine.

RELATED: COVID-19 Vaccine: Dr. Anthony Fauci Gets Why Black People Are Weary After Tuskegee Experiment

Johnson however wants to get the word out that the  the coronavirus vaccines are in fact safe and not a part of any sinister experiment. The testing and research have included African Americans at the administrative and scientific levels, she said. One of them was Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who works with top government infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“That information, we can distribute very quickly through our churches and through our networks of notification,” said Johnson. “That’s the kind of intelligence that you’ve got to get to the people so they will understand it from people they trust.”

Slowly, more African Americans have said that they would take a vaccine once available. In October, only 43 percent said they would get it, according to a survey from Fierce Pharma. But a December poll by the Kaiser Foundation showed that number increased to 62 percent.
Johnson says that she would get the vaccine when it becomes available to her and believes now that it is being distributed, there is hope.
“I do believe that we have reached a point where we can see some light at the end of the tunnel,” she told the Morning News.

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