As the fight against coronavirus pandemic continues, BET.com will be bringing updated information about the progress of health officials, the federal government and updates in other parts of the world on happenings.
Keep checking back for more daily posts to keep you abreast of what is taking place from all corners.
Black Medical Field Leaders Seek Ways To Open Trust In Coronavirus Vaccine
Monday, Dec. 14, 2020
The coronavirus vaccine has now gone from development earlier in 2020 to testing in recent months and finally to distribution in an attempt to stop further spread of the pandemic. On Monday it is being administered to frontline healthcare workers across the nation.
Among the first was a Black nurse at New York’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Sandra Lindsay, who took the vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer. After her, thousands of people in the medical field took the medicine, the first wave of individuals to have it administered.
But skepticism about the vaccine seems to persist in the Black community. Many are hesitant because of the uneasy history of the medical field’s history with African Americans. The Tuskegee experiment and the use of the cervical cells of Henrietta Lacks by scientists without her consent are two items frequently referred to.
But Black health professionals are continuing to do outreach because so many people in Black communities are heavily affected by COVID-19. According to APM Research Lab, Blacks have suffered a disproportionately high 123.7 deaths per 100,000 as opposed to 75.7 deaths per 100,000 for whites.
According to CNBC, only 42 percent of Blacks say they plan to be vaccinated, while 60 percent say they will. In addition, the speed at which the vaccine was developed is also increasing skepticism.
“They want to know and have real reasons for trust. They want to know that the process is going to be fair, that they are not being guinea pigs to a system that is rigged against them,” Black Coalition Against COVID co-founder Dr. Reed Tuckson told CNBC.
Tuckson’s group has brought together Black medical professional groups like the National Medical Association and the National Black Nurses Association, along with leaders from several HBCUs like Howard University and Morehouse College. They have been asking officials to place priority on getting vaccine access for communities of color.
“We should not allow the dissemination of a lifesaving vaccine to worsen health inequities. In fact, it should help to narrow them,” Tuckson said.
The group says it will be working at the grassroots level with local health groups, churches, and others to foster trust.
“Fifty percent of a neighborhood will need to go ahead and have the vaccine, to be able to burn out the virus in the other 50%,” said Dr. Lou Edje, who is enrolled in the Moderna vaccine trial in Cincinnati ssid to CNBC. “We really need to have every neighborhood get some immunity for us to have a global effect.”
COVID-19 Study Shows Implicit Biases By Health Care Providers At The County Level
Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020
The racial disparities in the coronavirus pandemic are already well documented, but a group of researchers have found that racial bias has actually helped to fuel the spread of the disease. Their conclusions resulted after examining how treatment is applied at the county level.
Writing in The Conversation, an independent news website, Texas A&M researchers George B. Cunningham, Professor of Sport Management and Lisa T. Wigfall, Assistant Professor of Health and Kinesiology, pointed out advantages white people tend to have over minorities. Specifically, they analyzed how racial attitudes in communities influenced the border picture of what happens to coronavirus patients.
The study reads:
"We focused on two kinds of racial attitudes. The first, explicit, represents those attitudes that people intentionally maintain. Here, people express negative attitudes toward a group, or toward people they think belong to that group. An example came in Minnesota, where health workers offering free COVID-19 testing were called various racial epithets.
We also examined implicit racial attitudes. These are the automatic, unintentional responses people have. Though they take a different form, implicit racial attitudes can and do affect people’s behaviors. A health-related example comes when people make an automatic assumption that “actual physicians or nurses” are white."
When looking at the health and demographics of county residents in data collected from USAFacts of total cases and deaths collected from Jan. 22 through Aug. 31, the researchers found explicit racial attitudes were related to coronavirus cases. These attitudes were linked to the automatic, unintended racial biases people have, for example assumptions that doctors and nurses are white.
The study continues:
"We suggest that, when examined at the aggregate level, racial attitudes reflect systemic forms of racism. They show the bias of crowds and the deeper biases that are embedded in society."
The study concludes that racism in county-level data seemed to predict health outcomes related to coronavirus. The recommended solution suggests that health care providers create training for workers to recognize implicit biases. This would be followed by state, municipal and county executives following suit to improve health care access for everyone they serve.
COVID Cases and Hospitalizations Reach National One-Day Peak
Thursday, December 3, 2020:
Warnings by officials that the current Coronavirus surge will be worse than that of earlier this year are proving true, with the United States experiencing the most Coronavirus deaths in a day and the most COVID-related hospitalizations in a day.
More than 2,800 deaths from Coronavirus were reported in the United States, and 100,226 patients with Coronavirus were in U.S. hospitals on Wednesday, more than any other day in the pandemic, according to the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer organization launched by The Atlantic.
The previous pandemic peak was 2,603 deaths in a day on April 15, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, and the average number of COVID-related deaths in a day over the course of a week is 1,654, CNN reports. All previous numbers are on their way to being eclipsed, experts are reporting.
“By this time next week, we are going to be talking about 3,000 deaths a day -- that’s 9/11 every single day,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University, told CNN.
The soaring numbers prompted Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to tell CNN that the winter months are likely “going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.”
Hospitals have reported that staff and resources are being stretched to their limits, and the American Ambulance Association reported the same in a letter issued Wednesday. The association represents ambulance services across the country.
“Without additional relief, it seems likely to break, even as we enter the third surge of the virus in the Midwest and West,” read a passage from the letter published by CNN.--Melanie Eversley
Interpol Warns U.S., Nigeria, South Africa, And Others About Possibility Of Organized Crime Taking Over Coronavirus Response
Thursday, December 3, 2020:
The International Criminal Police Organization, also known as Interpol, is warning the United States, South Africa, Nigeria and 191 other countries to beware of fake coronavirus vaccines pushed by organized crime now that drug companies are moving toward government approvals for their respective versions.
The organization based in Lyon, France, issued what it calls an “Orange Alert” to the member countries.
“As a number of COVID-19 vaccines come closer to approval and global distribution, ensuring the safety of the supply chain and identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential,” Interpol warned on Wednesday.
“The need for coordination between law enforcement and health regulatory bodies will also play a vital role to ensure the safety of individuals and wellbeing of communities are protected,” the agency’s statement read.
Said Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock in a statement, “As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains.”
The need for a vaccine has escalated as many places, including the United States, experience a second surge in the virus that has infected 64.7 million people and killed almost 1.5 million as of Thursday morning, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.
The United States leads the world in the number of cases, listed at nearly 14 million Thursday morning by the Johns Hopkins center. More than 274,000 people have died in the United States from the Coronavirus as of Thursday morning, the center reported.
On Wednesday, the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to approve a Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine designed for widespread use, All Africa reported.
Interpol also warned people to be careful when surfing the web for pharmaceuticals because the sites they visit might be connected to malware.--Melanie Eversley
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.
AstraZeneca Joins Other Companies In Development Of Coronavirus Vaccine
Nov. 23, 2020
British pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca is now the third company to have developed a COVID-19 vaccine, which it says in late-stage trials is up to 90 percent effective, the Associated Press reports. Their research was conducted in conjunction with Oxford University. While increasing hope that relief is near in the battle against coronavirus, the news comes as states are continuing to see increases in the spread, and as fears are rising over Thanksgiving holiday travel.
Earlier in November, both Pfizer and Moderna had reported results from late-stage vaccine trials that showed the drugs they had developed were nearly 95 percent effective. The difference between theirs and AstraZeneca is that the UK company’s drug does not have to stored at extremely cold temperatures, making distribution easier, according to the AP.
“I think these are really exciting results,” said Dr. Andrew Pollard, the trial’s chief investigator, saying there is even potential for use in developing nations. Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”
The AstraZeneca drug is also expected to be cheaper than the others. While Pfizer’s will cost $20 per dose and Moderna’s will be $15 to $20 per dose, AstraZeneca -- which has made deals with governments and global health organizations to charge only $2.50 per dose and will not make a profit from it.
Oxford and AstraZeneca officials say the development of the vaccine is not a competition with other companies and that many vaccines will need to be developed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re not thinking about vaccinations working in terms of one person at a time. We have to think about vaccinating communities, populations, reducing transmission within those populations, so that we really get on top of this pandemic,″ said Sarah Gilbert, one of the heads of Oxford research group. “And that’s what it now looks like we’re going to have the ability to contribute to in a really big way.″
Meanwhile, Americans are making Thanksgiving travel plans as they would in a normal year, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraging holiday travel.
USA Today reports Friday and Sunday, more than 1 million people passed through airport security checkpoints and Saturday totaled nearly that number. Sunday itself was the busiest day at airports since the pandemic began.
But this goes against the warnings issued by public health professionals that traveling and large gatherings would only help spread coronavirus.
"The tragedy that could happen is that one of your family members is coming to this family gathering and they could end up severely ill, hospitalized or dying. And we don’t want that to happen," said Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s coronavirus incident manager at a press conference. “These times are tough, it’s been a long outbreak, almost 11 months, and we understand people are tired.
“We understand that people want to see their family and relatives and do it as they’ve always done it,” he continued. “But this year we’re asking them to limit their travel.”
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that 12.2 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with coronavirus and 256,803 have died. Globally 58 million have been diagnosed and 1.3 million have died.
Oxford and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccine Expected By Christmas
November 17, 2020:
There is good news ahead for a coronavirus vaccine. Oxford University scientists may have results from the late-stage trials of their vaccine by Christmas.
According to the BBC via The Washington Post, Dr. Andrew Pollard, an expert in pediatric infection and immunity at Oxford, said, “I think we’re getting close, and it’s definitely going to be before Christmas based on the progress.”
He continued, “The reason that we’re so delighted is that we’re seeing the immune responses look exactly the same, even in those who are over 70-years of age.”
RELATED: Louisiana Governor Forming Task Force Targeted At COVID-19’s Effect on African Americans
The Los Angeles Times reports the Phase II trial was based on “560 people, including 240 over the age of 70.”
Even if a vaccine becomes available, it will take several months to make it available to the public. The vaccine will be given to healthcare workers then distributed to the general public.
Pfizer and Moderna also claim late-stage trials show that their COVID-19 vaccines are 95% effective.
Latest Potential Coronavirus Vaccine, from Moderna, Has 94.5 Percent Efficacy, Officials Say
Nov. 16, 2020
Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna has become the second major pharmaceutical company to develop a coronavirus vaccine, but officials with the company say it has the most efficacy of any drug developed so far, the Boston Globe reports.
“This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate” said Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel in a statement on Monday (Nov. 16). “Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters.”
The vaccine appears to have 94.5 percent efficacy based on the Phase 3 trial of the drug. That trial had enrolled more than 30,000 people and went under evaluation by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board consisting of experts who monitor safety and the efficacy of the vaccine.
The first review of the data coming from the trial showed the vaccine, which comes in two-doses was as effective as another one announced last week by Pfizer, which said its drug had 90 percent efficacy. In that study, 43,000 people participated receiving either the vaccine or a placebo. The virus was present in less than 10 percent of those who received their drug.
But in the Moderna study, the monitoring board analyzed the first 95 cases of coronavirus among those who had taken two shots four weeks apart. Half of all participants got the actual vaccine, the other half got a placebo. Only five of the 95 COVID-19 patients were actually administered the drug. The resulting data signals that the Moderna drug has 94.5 efficacy.
Moderna will submit the vaccine for emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks, according to its statement.
“This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease,” said Bancel.
According to data from Johns Hopkins Unviersity, more than 11 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with coronavirus. More than 246,000 have died. Globally, 54 million have contracted the disease and 1.3 million have died from it.
Pfizer Says Vaccine It Has Developed Is 90 Percent Effective In Fighting COVID-19
Nov. 9, 2020
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced that it has developed a vaccine that is more than 90 percent effective, giving hope where little has emerged in the midst of the global pandemic.
An analysis of the first 94 cases of COVID-19 in 43,000 volunteers who received either the vaccine or a placebo showed the disease in less than 10 percent of the trial participants who were administered the vaccine, according to CNN. The vaccine, which requires two doses,had a 90 percent efficacy rate at a full week after the second dose.
"It is extraordinary but it's coming at a time that the world needs it the most," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said during an appearance on CNN Monday (Nov. 9).
But among African Americans, a narrative of mistrust in a vaccine has persisted. About 3,000 Black have been recruited for large vaccine trials, according to USA Today. But many say they would, at least, not be among the first to have a vaccine administered. In a September Pew Research poll, 32 percent of Blacks said they would take a vaccine, which is down form 54 percent in May.
Racism, particularly the institutionalised racism of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, was cited by participants in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration focus group, USA Today reported.
"I firmly believe that this is another Tuskegee Experiment," one member of the group said.
"The more they study me, the more they know how to get rid of me," said another.
But in an interview on the American Medical Association website, Dr. Louito Edje, associate dean of graduate medical education at the University of Cincinnati, who is Black, said chose to take the vaccine herself.
“If you're going to lead by example, you might as well do it in the light instead of darkness,” said Edje. “If there's a single other person who decides to be in the trial because I was in the trial and, ultimately, if this vaccine is the one that works, then that’s great.”
Meanwhile, President-elect Biden’s transition team has launched his 13-member COVID-19 task force, which includes several infectious disease experts who will be at the forefront of battling the disease once he takes office.
Dr. Rick Bright, who was removed from a federal medical research agency after becoming a whistleblower when government officials did not listen to his warnings about the need to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, will be a leader on the task force. Also, Dr. Vivek Murthy, surgeon general under Barack Obama; David Kessler, former FDA head under the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, public health professor at Yale University.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 50 million people have been diagnosed with coronavirus and more than 1.2 million people have died of COVD-19 complications. In the United States, 10 million people have been diagnosed with 237,000 deaths.
Biden Was Right In Debate About Ratio Of Black COVID-19 Deaths
In Tuesday night’s (Sept. 29) presidential debate, which is being panned as raucous and contentious, one of the details that may have been missed is a remark from Democratic candidate Joe Biden about the ratio of Black people who have died of coronavirus.
“You talk about helping African Americans — 1 in 1,000 African Americans has been killed because of the coronavirus,” Biden said, while criticizing President Trump over his response to the pandemic. “And if he doesn’t do something quickly, by the end of the year, 1 in 500 will have been killed. 1 in 500 African Americans.”
There was question about the accuracy of what Biden said, but it turns out it was true.
In a Vox.com story that sites data from APM Research Lab, 1 in 1,020 African Americans have been killed by COVID-19 (97.9 deaths per 100,000). “Black Americans continue to experience the highest actual COVID-19 mortality rates nationwide—more than twice as high as the rate for Whites and Asians, who have the lowest actual rates,” the study reads.
Trump has consistently touted low unemployment numbers, prison reform and HBCU funding as a sell for Black people, but Biden rejected that citing the coronavirus figures, which continue to disproportionately affect the African American community.
“Look, the fact is, you have to look at what he talks about,” Biden said. “You have to look at what he did, and what he did has been disastrous for the African American community.”
Bowie State Using Immersive Environments To Study Coronavirus Impact
Students and professors at Bowie State University, an HBCU, are using data to find how coronavirus is affecting students’ in several ways including academic performance, housing, family, health and anxiety, and also the role digitization plays in their future prospects.
Using Tableau software, which turns data into graphics, students saw scenarios of what happens in a three dimensional virtual environment during the pandemic. “The digitization of the world is going to happen really fast because of COVID,” Bowie State assistant business professor Kavita Kapur, told the Anne Arundel Capital Gazette.
Students this summer used a three-dimensional virtual reality environment which people could analyze COVID-19 data. The intention is to try to get a handle as to why African Americans are experiencing higher death rates from COVID-19, the Capital Gazette reported.
Emory Healthcare Having Trouble Locating People of Color For Vaccine Trials
Finding minorities to participate in coronavirus vaccine trials has proven to be a difficult task, medical experts at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta are learning. The population of people who have stepped up for the trials is not diverse enough to make a vaccine effective, doctors say, according to local station WXIA.
"It's hard to enroll minorities. For a variety of reasons. Many of them are systemic issues of racism and discrimination," said Dr. Carlos Del Rio, Emory University professor of medicine and its top infectious disease specialist. "There's a history of Tuskegee, of Henrietta Lacks, a lot of time as investigators we spend a lot of time gaining the trust of the community."
Emory is working with pharmaceutical company Moderna on a vaccine and are recruiting with a goal of identifying mainly people aged 65 and older.
Because of the disproportionate way coronavirus has hit communities of color, Del Rio says it’s essential that people from these communities participate.
"The point is that the population most impacted and most affected need to be represented in trials," said Del Rio. "Our recruitment team is primarily African American and Hispanic individuals. They can go into the community. They look like the community and can go out and talk to people.”
Increase in Philadelphia Mask Use Comes As COVID-19 Infections Drop
Mask use in Philadelphia almost doubled in August and 95 percent of people viewed on security cameras exiting stores in the last week of the month were wearing face coverings, according to Billypenn.com, a WHYY member-supported website. The observations were made by the city’s health department.
What’s more, during the second half of August, more than 80 percent of people walking the city’s sidewalks were observed wearing masks, which is double that of July. City data show that there has been a decrease in case counts and positivity rates in Philadelphia. There have been more than 34,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,700 deaths, according to the health department. However, positivity rates have significantly dropped over the last several weeks from 220 on July 23 to 12 on Sept. 8.
The Centers for Disease Control has consistently encouraged the use of masks to minimize coronavirus spread. Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley emphasized how masks are helping to push the infection rate back.
“Mask use is as important as ever,” Farley told Billypenn.com. “It’s a very simple step…if there’s one thing you can do to help yourself and others, it’s wearing a mask.”
African American Seniors Face Worse Challenges From Coronavirus
Elderly African Americans are more likely to die of COVID-19 than anyone else in the United States and people in the medical field say there are not enough conversations about it.
According to Kaiser Health News, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that African Americans aged 65-74 died about five times the rate of whites. With people 75-84, the death rate was 3.5 times greater and among those 85 and older the rate was about double that of whites. Death rates for Hispanics were higher than whites, but lower than the Black rate.
“People are talking about the race disparity in COVID deaths, they’re talking about the age disparity, but they’re not talking about how race and age disparities interact: They’re not talking about older Black adults,” Robert Joseph Taylor, director of the Program for Research on Black Americans at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, told KHN.
Because of less access to healthcare, mistrust of the system, poorer quality service and other factors already culminate in chronic illnesses that onset during middle age and lead to larger disparities. The coronavirus pandemic, has worsened it.
Karen Lincoln, director of Advocates for African American Elders and an associate professor of social work at the University of Southern California, says elderly Blacks need “help from people who they can relate to,” which means more Black health care workers in the community.
“My grandfather,” she explained, “he made it to the fifth grade. For many people, understanding the information that’s put out, especially when it changes so often and people don’t really understand why, is a challenge.”
Detroit Memorializes COVID-19 Victims With Unique Public Photo Display
Detroit, a city that has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, is honoring the victims of COVID-19 in a unique public display in its largest public space.
About 900 residents of the Detroit area who have died of the disease are being memorialized through a large photo exhibit at Belle Isle, the city’s island park which sits in the middle of the Detroit River off its East Side. A total of 1,500 metro Detroiters have died of coronavirus.
The memorial shows photos of the various people who have succumbed to the disease and visitors can view them as they drive by their photos, which are placed in alphabetical order.
"My father was a victim of COVID, along with other things, and I just think that this is really nice for the city of Detroit to memorialize these victims," Tanzania Alexander, whose father, Walter died in April, told the Detroit Free Press.
Speaking at the launch of the memorial were Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Mayor Mike Duggan and the city’s Arts and Culture Director Rochelle Riley, who was in charge of planning the event.
"This city was hit harder than most. ... Last week, Michigan recorded our 100,000th case of COVID-19. We've now lost more than 6,750 Michiganders, more than 1,500 here in Detroit," said Whitmer. "It's easy to get numb in this environment, but we must not just look at this as numbers. These are people. Men and women, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, who had dreams and plans and a story. They weren't finished yet."
According to state health department figures, there have been 115,000 diagnosed cases of coronavirus in Michigan and 6,783 people have died. In Wayne County, where Detroit is located, 31,000 cases have been diagnosed and almost 2,900 have died. In its two adjacent counties, Oakland and Macomb counties, 18,000 diagnoses with 1,110 deaths and 13,000 diagnoses with 984 deaths have been reported, respectively.
“They're not just a number, they are a real, actual person with family members that did not get to say goodbye ... in the normal way that we do,” said Sara Smith a volunteer for the project. She told the Free Press it was "very good to see them dressed in civilian clothes not in a hospital gown and looking happy in the photographs."
New COVID-19 Cases In Ohio Overtake July Number
Newly reported coronavirus cases in Ohio reached almost 1,500 on Tuesday (Sept. 1), the Ohio Department of Health said.
But the 1,453 cases are higher than the 21-day rolling average of 1,037 cases, Cleveland.com reported, and the state has not seen this number since July.
“This is a stark reminder that the virus is not going away,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. “We think a significant part of this is caused by our colleges going back as well as our grade schools and high schools going back.”
State health department numbers show 124,610 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 104,000 people have recovered.
Nationwide more than 6 million people have contracted COVID-19 and more than 184,000 people have died, according to information from Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
Flint, Mich., Police Chief Blames ‘Lawlessness’ on Coronavirus Pandemic
The new chief of police in Flint, Mich., says the coronavirus pandemic helped worsen “lawlessness” in the city and a significant increase in violent crime.
Flint, located about an hour north of Detroit, had already been troubled by a water crisis that made international news in which its water supply was contaminated by lead. But it has also remained consistently one of the most violent cities in the country.
Terence Green, who took over the police chief’s job this summer after a 24 percent increase over 2019, said things got out of control when the pandemic began to spread.
“On a daily basis, there's reports of shots fired, individuals being shot,” Green told MichiganRadio.org. “And it appears as though there's lawlessness since the beginning of this COVID-19 epidemic.”
According to MLive.com, in April almost half of the COVID-19 cases Genessee County, Mich., were coming from Flint. County health officials say 3,235 cases have been diagnosed with 279 deaths. Flint is 57 percent African American, according to U.S. Census statistics.
COVID-19 Is Third Leading Cause of Death Among African Americans, Study Says
Novel coronavirus has had such a negative impact on the African American community that it is now regarded as the No. 3 cause of death among Blacks, according to research from The Brookings Institution.
A new report from the Washington D.C.-based think tank entitled, “The Hamilton Project: Racial Economic Inequality Amid the COVID-19 Crisis” outlines how the pandemic has affected communities of color over the months it has spread.
“In 2020 more Black Americans will die of COVID-19 than will succumb to diabetes, strokes, accidents, or pneumonia. In fact, COVID-19 is currently the third leading cause of death for Black Americans,” wrote Bradley Hardy, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Policy at The American University and Trevon Logan, Economics Professor at the Ohio State University.
The two scholars connected the racial wealth gap, and weakened labor market and over all lower incomes with the onset of the pandemic to show the dire results.
“The unprecedented public health and economic shock of COVID-19—and the additional burden placed on family economic resources and health—will potentially worsen the already diminished long-run outcomes expected for Black households,” the study says. “Even prior to COVID-19, long-run outcomes were worsened by inequality in access to strong safety nets, along with low wealth, low and unstable incomes, and residency in high-poverty, segregated neighborhoods.”
COVID-19 Antibody Study For African Continent Launches
A continent-wide study of coronavirus antibodies has been launched in Africa to determine how much the disease has spread in its various nations.
According to the Philadelphia Tribune, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the recorded rate of deaths among the continent’s 1.3 billion people have been relatively low, but data collection efforts have been slow.
“What is important is far fewer people are coming down with the disease,” Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said. “How many people are infected and asymptomatic on our continent? We don’t know that.”
All African countries will be included in the study, but the ones that have shown initial interest are Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria and Morocco, said Nkengasong.
Africa reached the benchmark of 1 million confirmed cases last week, but health experts say the real number could be much larger than that. There have been more than 24,000 confirmed deaths with a fatality rate of 2.2 percent.
New National Urban League Report Focuses On Coronavirus Impact
Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 - The 2020 annual State of Black America report from the National Urban League focuses on the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the African American community since its spread through most of the year.
Entitled “Unmasked,” the report reveals the data behind the disparities that have caused a disproportionate number of people of color to be afflicted with COVID-19.
“This report defines structural racism; If people want to know what structural racism is, it is the fact that these disparities in the 15 years that we’ve been releasing these statistics, in this fashion, have changed very little,” said Marc Morial, National Urban League CEO in the report. “What stands out in 2020 is the awakening that the information contained in this report is real, substantial and that something has to be done about it.”
Morial calls racism the “pandemic within the pandemic” and says health care biases, ignoring the science on the disease and undervaluing essential workers are just a few of the factors making coronavirus afflict the Black community so badly.
“When you have 150,000 people dead and 40% of them I believe are Black, the country and Black America particularly, you can’t do happy talk and suggest these are the best of times,” Morial said, according to the Los Angeles Sentinel.
Filmmaker Creates Documentary Showing Effect Of Coronavirus On Black Community
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020 - An African American filmmaker is focusing on the effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on his own community with a new documentary.
Theo Rogers, said he wants to shed light on how health disparities among African Americans have worsened the spread of COVID-19 in the documentary “Milwaukee in Pain.”
"COVID-19 was kind of like a spotlight of these issues," Rogers told local Milwaukee station WTMJ. "I wanted to get to the nitty-gritty of the story. A lot of these issues come from poverty, lack of education. A lot of these issues come from health, mental health, all different things of that nature."
Rogers, who has lost five relatives to COVID-19, lost his job as an audio technician in Las Vegas, due to the pandemic. But he saw unemployment as an opportunity to show how it has affected his hometown.
African Americans make up about 27 percent of Milwaukee County’s population, but 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths. Whites are just over 64 percent of the population, but count for 42 percent of the deaths.
The disproportionate number is what spurred Rogers into action.
"What really hurt me was Milwaukee was suffering some of the highest rates of coronavirus, especially in our inner city," Rogers said. "I really wanted to get to the bottom of the story."
California’s Top Health Official Quits Over COVID-19 Records Glitch
Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020 - California’s top health official has resigned after the state announced that it had corrected a glitch that created a lag in reporting coronavirus figures.
Dr. Sonia Angell announced Sunday that she is leaving her position as director and state public health officer at the California Department of Public Health. A letter to her staff did not give a reason for her leaving, according to CBS San Francisco.
However, the technical glitch that affects the COVID-19 data system that the state uses for tracking cases so that decisions on reopening could be made had caused several problems. The system is fixed, but will take days to update it, officials said. As many as 300,000 records were backlogged, said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.
“We apologize. You deserve better, the governor demands better of us and we are committed to doing better,” said Ghaly.
California reported 8,436 new confirmed cases Friday and surpassed 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
Almost Half Of All Black Businesses Wiped Out By Pandemic
Monday, Aug. 10, 2020 - The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Black community particularly hard, not just as far as exposing health disparities, but also economically as well.
"Nationally representative data on small businesses indicate that the number of active business owners fell by 22% from February to April 2020—the largest drop on record," according to the report. "Black businesses experienced the most acute decline, with a 41% drop.”
By contrast, white-owned small businesses experienced just a 17 percent decline.
But although institutionalized racism factors in, one of the primary reasons for the drop in Black businesses is that they are located in areas where widespread COVID-19 infections have taken place.
"Volumes of COVID-19 cases coincide with Black-owned business locations: two-thirds of counties with high levels of Black business activity pre-COVID-19 are in the top 50 COVID-affected areas," according to the New York Fed. Meanwhile payment gaps into the Paycheck Protection Program also harshly affected African American owned businesses.
"These loans reached only 20% of eligible firms in states with the highest densities of Black-owned firms, and in counties with the densest Black-owned business activity, coverage rates were typically lower than 20%," the Fed report said.
Mississippi Governor Partially Switches on Mask Wearing Mandate
Friday August 7, 2020 - Gov. Tate Reeves is changing course in his directives on wearing masks in Mississippi as coronavirus cases continue to increase in the state. New cases rose to a record 1,775 in a single day, adding to the number of states that seem to be losing control of the pandemic’s spread.
Reeves announced that he is ordering Mississippi residents to wear masks at statewide public gatherings for two weeks. This marks a change from not requiring mask wearing in the state, but Mississippi is now only behind Florida in new cases per million people, according to ABC News.
Reeves said he wanted to issue the requirement ahead of school reopenings in the state.
"We have got to be prepared to change -- this is what we are doing for the initial reopening of our schools," Reeves said Tuesday. "We have to balance the very real risk of the virus and the lifelong damage from school closures."
As of Wednesday, Mississippi had at least 64,400 COVID-19 cases, doubling the 30,900 cases it had in July, ABC News reported.
Obesity Epidemic Could Hinder COVID-19 Vaccine Treatments
Thursday August 6, 2020 - The nation’s obesity epidemic could hinder the effectiveness of a vaccine targeted at addressing the coronavirus epidemic, scientists say.
Existing vaccines that treat other widespread diseases like influenza, hepatitis N, tetanus and rabies are shown to be less effective in people who suffer from obesity, meaning they can be more vulnerable. A COVID-19 vaccine could prove to be no different in its effectiveness.
“Will we have a COVID vaccine next year tailored to the obese? No way,” said Raz Shaikh, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, told Kaiser Health News. “Will it still work in the obese? Our prediction is no.”
Obesity has been known for decades as a fatal health risk from ailments like cardiovascular disease and cancer. But scientists now believe that it can also contribute to poor immune response, meaning the obese can be at greater risk for infections like influenza and coronavirus.
However, Dr. Timothy Garvey, an endocrinologist and director of diabetes research at the University of Alabama told Kaiser Health News that it is still safer to get the obese vaccinated than not.
“The influenza vaccine still works in patients with obesity, but just not as well,” said Garvey. “We still want them to get vaccinated.”
Trump On U.S. Coronavirus Deaths: ‘It Is What It Is’
Wednesday August 5, 2020 - President Trump’s attitude toward the increasing number of deaths nationwide from coronavirus was apparently cavalier during an interview that aired Tuesday (August 4).
According to CBS News, while speaking to Axios.com’s Jonathan Swan, who challenged Trump’s contention that the pandemic was under control, the president said the rate of 1,000 people per day dying from the disease “is what it is.”
The United States has far and away the highest number of cases in the world, with 4.7 million infections and 155,00 deaths. The number of new infections is spiking in states like Florida, Texas and California. The nation’s schools are also trying to figure out how they will handle returning students as the school year returns.
Trump, however, believes the United States is “lower than Europe” based on charts and data he’s seen, despite the numerous deaths.
"They are dying. That's true," Trump said. "And it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control, as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague that beset us."
Bahamas Goes Into Lockdown Amid COVID-19 Spike
Tuesday August 4, 2020 - Citing a sharp increase in coronavirus hospitalizations, the prime minister of the Bahamas has issued a complete lockdown order for the caribbean island nation.
The country confirmed 31 new cases, on Monday making a total of 679 infections, the highest number since its first confirmation in March. The nation, whose economy depends largely on tourism, opened its borders to visitors on July 1, but cases began to increase almost immediately afterward.
“Our ICU beds are at capacity and non-critical care beds are approaching capacity,” said Prime Minister Hubert Minnis during a national address, just days after the nation avoided Hurricane Isaias. “We can and we will rebuild our economy and our society. But what we cannot do is bring people’s life back. We can rebuild, but we cannot recreate new life.”
Health officials traced the new cases to gatherings and travel to hotspots like Florida, which is also seeing a significant increase, according to the Miami Herald.
Thousands Of COVID-19 Test Results Aren’t Being Counted By The State Of Texas
Monday August 3, 2020 - While various parts of the country continue to be rocked by COVID-19, it is now being said that the data in certain states isn’t as accurate as we originally thought. More than 440,000 cases of COVID-19 have been tallied in Texas but that number is reportedly not the actual total of those infected with the disease in the state.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas is excluding the results of the increasingly popular rapid coronavirus tests from the numbers it reports publicly, which is obscuring the scope of the pandemic.
Harris County, which includes Houston, has reported more than 70,000 positive cases without taking into account the new antigen tests, which are typically used in doctor’s offices, stand-alone clinics as well as some hospitals. These tests deliver COVID-19 results in less than half an hour.
The Chronicle reports there’s conflicting guidance from the Texas Department of State Health Services that is creating confusion among local health departments about what test results should be reported. In addition to the reporting issues, a paper backlog as a result of faxed test results is making it impossible for the state to do its own tally.
While the state’s tally of positive coronavirus cases can not be counted independently, based on analysis from the Chronicle, the 11 Texas counties can publish antigen test results separately. Doing so would reveal that the state is short by at least tens of thousands of cases.
Democratic State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, who is the vice-chair of the House committee that oversees the state’s public health agencies, said the lack of reliable data is hindering the overall response to COVID-19 in Texas.
“The only way people will be inspired to act right without government mandates is if they have the information they need to make smart choices,” Hinojosa said to the Chronicle. “And that has been just impossible to come by.”
Nationally, more than 4.6 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported. More than 157,000 people have died from the disease, including 7,515 in Texas.
Children of Color in Minnesota Disproportionately Affected By COVID-19, Data Shows
Friday July 31, 2020 - Health officials in Minnesota say that COVID-19 is affecting Black and Latino children at higher rates than whites, according to new data.
As of Tuesday, there were more than 52,000 cases in the state and 13 percent are people 19 years old and younger. But among them, a disproportionate number are nonwhite.
“We're for sure seeing a disproportionate number of children of color being impacted by COVID,” Patsy Stinchfield, director of infection prevention and control at Children’s Minnesota hospital told Minnesota Public Radio.
That hospital system treated about 300 cases of coronavirus among children as of mid-July, MPR reported. About 31 percent were Black; 24 percent Latino; 16 percent white and 11 percent Asian. Numbers are similar statewide.
Stinchfield believes many of the children are becoming infected as a result of contact with a family member.
"I think in a lot of our families of color, they are front-line workers,” she said. “They are helping serve the public. And so they are exposing themselves to crowds, to people and then potentially bringing that home themselves, getting sick and then passing it on to their children."
Vaccine Could Be Coming But People May Be Reluctant To Try It
Thursday July 30, 2020 - People may be waiting for a vaccine for coronavirus, but not many want to be the first to try it in its first year, according to a new poll.
A readers survey of 1,000 people given by WebMd.com shows that although public health experts say a vaccine would be the best way to end the pandemic, only about 40 percent said they would actually get it.
Another 28 percent said they would not take the vaccine and 30 percent were not sure. Only 26 percent said they would get the vaccine in the first 90 days of availability. 42 percent said they would get it within the first 12 months.
“This serves as a wake-up call,” said WebMD’s chief medical officer Dr. John Whyte. “If immunization rates are low, then we’re not going to achieve the level of herd immunity needed to protect us from this virus.”
Scientists are racing to create a vaccine for COVID-19. Trials have been taking place for months and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says a vaccine could be available in 2021.
Poll Shows More People Trust The CDC For Coronavirus Data
Wednesday July 29 - A new poll shows that a majority of people trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data on coronavirus more than they do the White House.
In the survey, run July 17-20 jointly by The Hill and research firm HarrisX, 77 percent of registered voters polled said they trusted the CDC to give more accurate information. That’s contrasted by 23 percent that trusts the White House more.
The poll also found that more than over 9 in 10 Democratic voters trust the CDC more on coronavirus. About 77 percent of independent voters and 59 percent of those who vote Republican.
As for GOP voters, about 4 in 10 Republicans said they give the White House more trust to accurately report data on the pandemic over the CDC.
Roughly 23 percent of independents and only 7 percent of Democrats felt the same way.
Florida Sees Sharp Increase In Children’s COVID-19 Cases
Tuesday July 28, 2020 - Florida has seen an increase of 34 percent in children’s cases of coronavirus as cases across the state have surged over the past two weeks
According to CNN, the state had 23,170 positive tests for the disease on July 16. As of July 24 that figure had spiked to 31,150.
Hospitalizations for children have seen a significant increase as well. On July 16, 246 children in Florida were in hospitals. But as of July 24 there were 303, representing a 23 percent increase.
One of those children was Kimora “Kimmie” Lynum, 9, died of complications from COVID-19. Her family said she had no prior conditions.
“She was a happy child, but she didn’t even get to live her life,” Dejeon Cain, a cousin of Kimora told CNN. “She was doing good at one point, and all of a sudden she had a situation with a fever.”
The increase for children have come as Florida schools prepare to reopen for in-person learning next month. An order from state education commissioner Richard Cocoran was issued to send students back to school earlier in July.
Community Spread Becoming Major Problem In Louisiana COVID-19 Fight
Monday July 27, 2020 - According to the Louisiana Department of Health, 94 percent of its 3,840 new cases of coronavirus come from community spread.
A tweet from officials with the agency showed that people have been getting infected through means by which they were exposed in a particular area and may not know exactly who their infection came from.
Louisiana had been an early hotspot for the pandemic has reached 1,600 hospitalizations, the highest since May 1, according to The Advocate. Hospital administrators are afraid there will not be enough personnel to handle the influx of new patients.
“Physical space, we can continue to cram patients in the room,” said Dr. Manley Jordan, chief medical officer at Memorial Health System in Lake Charles. “It’s the human resource we’re worried about. It’s a matter of how long we have to run this hard, and is there more surge coming.”
Coronavirus Forces Cancellations Of Fundraising Events For Historic Black Park
Friday July 24, 2020 - While the coronavirus infections continue to spike in states across the country, the pandemic is also affecting popular fundraising events in Pennsylvania that must now be canceled to prevent the spread.
Fairview Park, a historic African American-owned park in Delmont, Pa., is now unable to hold the fundraisers that provide money to maintain it.
“This would have been the 20th anniversary of the Old Fashioned Picnic. This year, actually, is the 75th anniversary of the park,” said Anita Jackson-Lowe, president of Fairview Park told CBS Pittsburgh. But now that event as well as their gala was canceled. Also, the park is prohibited from being rented out.
“Proceeds from both events were to be used for what we need,” Jackson-Lowe said. “As you can see out here, there is a lot of grass to be cut. We anticipated purchasing a new commercial tractor.”
Pennsylvania had been undergoing a three-phase plan for reopening. But large events had been cancelled in most areas. But now stay-at-home orders have been issued by Gov. Tom Wolf for several counties across the state, including Westmoreland, where the park is located.
Fairview Park was founded in 1945 by and for African Americans who were kept from other parks by segregation. Over the years, the park became a cultural and historic mainstay and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
For now the park is being maintained by volunteers and its board is relying on the generosity of donors. Park leaders are asking for donations to the Fairview Park Association.
Click here to donate.
Police Break Up Florida Party After Social Distancing Measures Ignored
Thursday July 23, 2020 - As Florida continues to be one of the world’s worst hotspots for coronavirus, many people there don’t seem to be heeding warnings about its danger, at least not at one gathering.
Police broke up a 600-person block party in Pahokee, Fla., over the weekend in which people were not wearing facial coverings nor were they social distancing, the Palm Beach Post reports.
The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office reported the gathering took place on Saturday along Lake Okeechobee and had come from another gathering in Belle Glade, Fla., after that location was cleared out.
The incident has driven Palm Beach County’s chief administrator Verdenia Baker to consider a curfew if behavior like this continues.
“I don’t foresee having to implement a curfew,” Baker told the Post on Monday, “but I will if I have to.”
At least 379,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Florida, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 5,700 people have died.
NFL: 59 players test positive for coronavirus, players union says
Wednesday July 22, 2020 - Coronavirus could impact plans for the upcoming NFL season just as it has other professional sports leagues while fans wait to see games resume.
According to the NFL Players Association website, 59 players have tested positive for COVID-19. Among those are Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot and Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller.
The league will give daily coronavirus tests for the first two weeks of training camp, SI says.
"This is ongoing work," Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, told ESPN. "There's no finish line with health and safety, and I think these protocols are living, breathing documents, which means they will change as we get new information. They will undoubtedly be changing over time, which is what we usually see in medicine."
Preseason games for the NFL start Aug. 13. The regular season is scheduled to begin Sept. 10.
Florida Teachers Sue To Halt Reopening Of Schools Amid Coronavirus Spike
Tuesday July 21, 2020 - The increasing number of coronavirus cases in Florida have led to a legal standoff between the state’s largest teacher’s union and Gov. Ron DeSantis over reopening schools there in the fall.
The Florida Education Association said that DeSantis violated a state constitutional rule that mandates public schools are kept “safe and secure,” according to NBC News. The group filed suit, attempting to stop the governor’s reopening order.
"Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one," FEA President Fedrick Ingram said in a statement. "The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control."
The governor issued an order on July 6, requiring schools to open at least five days a week, along with guidance from public health officials.
Florida has become a global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with more than 360,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
Maine’s Black Population Is 2 Percent, But Has 23 percent of COVID-19 Cases
Monday July 20, 2020 - At two percent, Maine has a very low number of Black residents, among the lowest in the country. In fact, according to U.S. Census data, among American states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, it ranks 46th in Black population.
But Blacks in the state also make up for 23 percent of coronavirus cases, according to a Washington Post article. Much of the population are immigrants from African nations and just how bad it has spread among the population is difficult to quantify because based on federal guidelines, the state does not keep data on immigrants.
Only two of Maine’s 115 COVID-19 deaths have been Black, but they also represent 836 of the 3,600 people who have been diagnosed with the disease.
Immigrant advocates say the state did not offer testing fast enough or offer support to the community, the Post reported. That is coupled with already existing racial disparities in health care that worsen the pandemic in communities of color.
“We know we’ve had long-standing racial disparities in our health-care system, and we know that racism is a problem in Maine, as it is elsewhere,” Jeanne Lambrew, the state’s Health and Human Services commissioner told the Post. “So we are trying to obviously act with urgency because we are trying to prevent what we’re seeing from getting worse.”
Coronavirus Cases Among Children In Florida Spiking, Data Says
Friday July 17, 2020 - Almost a third of children tested in Florida for coronavirus have tested positive, according to state data. The news comes amid debate over reopening schools in the state during the fall and also as Florida becomes the nation’s epicenter of the pandemic.
According to the data, 16,797 cases among people younger than 18 who have been tested were reported, with 213 hospitalizations and four deaths. Statewide, 2.8 million people have tested positive.
The state hotspots are the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area counties of Dade and Broward counties with 3,076 and 2,102 cases, respectively.
On Thursday (July 16), Florida set a new one-day COVID-19 death record at 156 and also a new high in cases at 13,837, state data shows. The current state case total is 315,775.
Subhed: Texas Teachers Making Out Wills In Fear of Returning to Class
Thursday July 16, 2020 - Teachers in Texas have become so worried about returning to school in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that they have taken out extra life insurance policies and have even begun to make out their wills.
Believing that maintaining social distance protocols is impossible, they said they will be under threat when in-person classroom instruction resumes in the state next month, according to Newsweek.
In a Monday (July 13) letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, Executive Director of the United Educators Association Steven Poole said that school employees would face greater risk.
"Many of our teachers, staff, or their family members have underlying health conditions that would place them at severe risk of the contract COVID-19," Poole wrote Poole on Monday. "While parents are given options to send their children to school or stay home for virtual instruction, teachers and staff do not have that option."
Other teaches echo what Poole said, reflecting their fears over returning to the classroom.
"It's pretty atrocious that in preparation for returning to school this fall, teachers are writing wills, getting medical power of attorney established, and taking out extra life insurance," teacher Jessica Schwinn said in a tweet. "This country has chosen it's priorities. It's money over people."
CDC Reports Younger People Of Color Facing Higher Coronavirus Risk
Wednesday, July 15, 2020: A new focus is being put on younger people of color who have pre-existing conditions and are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus disease. Many states have reported that communities of color have suffered more from the pandemic, but doctors now say that the patients they treat have increasingly become younger persons of color and usually suffer from some other medical issues like diabetes, obesity or heart disease, according to ABC News.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in May that patients who have these types of pre-existing medical issues become so sick from the coronavirus they typically require hospitalization to recover, if they recover at all. Now, as of June, the CDC has found that these cases are highest among non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native and non-Hispanic Black people.
"You combine long-standing health inequities and a health system with essential worker status and with underlying conditions, it is a perfect storm for a population we really need to look out for," Dr. Atul Nakhasi, a primary care physician and policy adviser at the Department of Health Services in Los Angeles, told ABC News.
While the death rate amongst younger Americans who test positive for coronavirus overall remains low, several state and hospital officials are providing data that indicates younger people are not just contracting the virus, but severely suffering from its effects. The cause is squarely based on wealth inequities, decades of health disparities and an overall lack of access to proper healthcare.
Data released by Florida’s state's Department of Health found that of the 25 people age 40 or younger who have died from the coronavirus in May, most also experienced complications due to asthma, chronic bronchitis, obesity and high blood pressure -- all conditions routinely associated with low-income generating people of color.
"Some of the structural factors are like environmental racism because of residential segregation and zoning ordinances," Dr. Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Clinic in California, told ABC News. "These populations are also disproportionately exposed to toxins and pollutants. And studies show that chronic exposure to air pollution increases COVID-19 mortality rate."
Houston Chronicle Publishes 43-Page Coronavirus Obituary Section
Tuesday July 14, 2020 - As the coronavirus continues to worsen in several states, Texas is among those seeing the highest increase in cases. With cases there jumping to more than 262,800 and 3,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Medical Center. the Houston Chronicle published a 43-page standalone obituary section on Sunday (July 12).
Cases are soaring in the state, which is seen as a hotspot months after Gov. Greg Abbott pressed to reopen businesses across the state. He has recently paused that reopening as new cases surge.
“As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families,” said Abbott in a news release. “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”
Adams: U.S. Can Turn COVID-19 Around ‘In Two to Three Weeks” If People Wear Masks
Monday, July 13, 2020 - U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that coronavirus could be turned around quickly in America if proper guidelines to mitigate the spread of the disease are followed by everyone.
Appearing on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Adams said that if a very large number of people in the country buy in, a significant decrease in the number of infections and fatalities would be seen.
"So just as we've seen cases skyrocket, we can turn this thing around in two to three weeks if we can get a critical mass of people wearing face coverings, practicing at least six feet of social distancing, doing the things that we know are effective," he said.
Adams made the comment just days after the U.S. saw its highest number ever of daily coronavirus cases.
He was asked about prior warnings in which he said masks were not necessary and said he has pivoted from that.
"I was saying that then because of everything we knew about coronaviruses before that point told us that people were not likely to spread when they were asymptomatic," Adams said Sunday. "So the science at the time suggested that there was not a high degree of asymptomatic spread. We learned more.
"We follow the science and when we learn more, our recommendations change. But it's hard when people are continuing to talk about things from three, four months ago."
L.A. Area Blacks, Latinos Still Suffering Disproportionate COVID-19 Rates
Friday, July 10, 2020 - Los Angeles County is continuing to see disparities in coronavirus cases among African Americans and Latinos despite improvements in testing in economically challenged communities.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Latinos in that area are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as whites and Blacks are 27 percent more likely to be infected and also twice as likely to die as whites. The data comes from research presented by L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer Thursday (July 9).
“The high rates of cases and deaths reflect a number of causes,” she said. “Many have at their root causes the impacts of racism and discrimination and the lack of access to resources and opportunists that lead to good health.”
The data shows that people who live in poorer communities have higher death rates from coronavirus and in places with higher poverty levels, the rate can be three times as high as areas with low or no poverty.
“Throughout the pandemic we’ve heard that people of color and communities with high levels of poverty are disproportionately affected by this virus,” said Ferrer. “This is still a disheartening reality.”
Increase in Tulsa COVID-19 Cases After Trump Rally
Thursday, July 9, 2020 -Tulsa, Oklahoma is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases just two weeks after President Trump staged a campaign rally there, despite warnings that the disease could be spread by such large gatherings.
According to CNN, Dr. Bruce Bart, who is executive director of the Tulsa Health Department told reporters Wednesday (July 8) that nearly 500 new cases were reported in the two days and the expectation is that those numbers will increase.
This news comes despite there being a 20 percent decrease in cases the week of June 28 through July 4.
Tulsa health officials reported 266 new cases on Wednesday, making more than 4,500 in the county. Oklahoma currently has 17,000 cases and 452 deaths according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
Brooklyn Nets' Taurean Prince To Sit Out NBA Restart Due to COVID-19
Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - Another NBA player will sit out of the season restart at the end of the month after testing positive for coronavirus, according to ESPN.
Taurean Prince, a forward for the Brooklyn Nets is the fourth from the team after DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Wilson Chandler to be ruled out of continued play in Orlando.
Jordan and Spencer tested positive while Chandler opted out to be with his family. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will not be participating in the restart because of injuries.
Prince’s positive test, so close to the July 31 restart, is the reason why he must sit out. The timing would not allow his body to rebuild in time, ESPN reported.
He was traded to the Nets from Atlanta last summer and started in 61 out of 64 played games, averaging 12 points and six rebounds. He signed a two-year $29 million extension in October.
U.S. Is Still ‘Knee Deep’ in Coronavirus’ First Wave, Top Pandemic Expert Says
Tuesday, July 7, 2020 - Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a Twitter and Facebook live video that the spread of coronavirus is worsening rather than improving across the nation.
"I would say, this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge, or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline ... that really never got down to where we wanted to go," he said.
According to CNN, the increase has led to a shortage in hospital beds and could possibly impact the already delicate economy further. Health officials are now warning after seeing footage from the Fourth of July weekend of people in public spaces ignoring social distancing guidelines.
"We are in free fall," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital told CNN. "You see the footage of what happened this past weekend. And people are either naive to the influence of their actions, or they're simply resigned to ignore it."
But in the livestream, National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins also tried to reassure the nation that it would get through the pandemic. "We just need all of the people in America to have that confidence. Keep your optimism, keep your hope and do the right thing," he said.
According to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, 2.9 million Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus, the most in the world, with 130,000 deaths and 924,000 recovered. Globally 11 million people have been diagnosed with 538,000 deaths and 6.3 million recovered.
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.
NY Times Sues CDC For New Data About Racial and Ethnic Inequality of Coronavirus
Monday, July 6, 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight the health and social inequities that are putting Blacks and Latinos at increased risk of contracting the deadly contagion.
A new study shows the gap is widening between the rates at which white Americans are being impacted and hospitalized by the coronavirus compared to Latino, Black and Native Americans, The New York Times reports.
Newly released data analyzed the characteristics of 640,000 infections in nearly 1,000 U.S. counties, according to the report, and it shows that Blacks and Latinos have died at more than twice the rate than white people who have contracted the virus or been hospitalized.
While data has long confirmed that the Black and Latino communities specifically were impacted the greatest by the virus, the New York Times had to sue the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to obtain these new federal statistics, which reveal the unmitigating truth. Throughout hundreds of counties in the United States, the individuals who contract and die from coronavirus across age groups, across locations, are Black and Latino people.
"The independent association between Black race and hospitalization in this investigation remained, even when the analysis controlled for other characteristics (including diagnosed underlying conditions)," researchers wrote, per CDC.com. That suggests "underlying conditions alone might not account for the higher rate of hospitalization amongBblack persons."
Here’s a further breakdown from th “COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups” report from June 25, 2020:
- As of June 12, 2020, age-adjusted hospitalization rates are highest among non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native and non-Hispanic black persons, followed by Hispanic or Latino persons.
- Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons have a rate approximately 5 times that of non-Hispanic white persons,
- Non-Hispanic Black persons have a rate approximately 5 times that of non-Hispanic white persons,
- Hispanic or Latino persons have a rate approximately 4 times that of non-Hispanic white persons.
According to federal data that examines the nearly 1.5 million coronavirus patients in America, the racial and ethinc disparities persist across state lines and regions.
“Systemic racism doesn’t just evidence itself in the criminal justice system,” said Quinton Lucas, the Black mayor of Kansas City, Mo., where Blacks and Latino makeup just 16 percent of the state’s population but are 40 percent of those infected for COVID-19.
“It’s something that we’re seeing taking lives in not just urban America, but rural America, and all types of parts where, frankly, people deserve an equal opportunity to live — to get health care, to get testing, to get tracing.”
While everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19, the CDC continues to explore why certain groups seem more likely to experience the illness.— Ny MaGee
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.
Friday July 3, 2020 - Surgeon General Jerome Adams is staying on message with a new social media video that reiterates personal mitigation of coronavirus spread.
In the new video, released Thursday (July 2), just ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend he outlines methods already widely discussed, including vigorous hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing. He also introduces a new hashtag to go along with the video: #COVIDStops WithMe.
“These small actions will make a big difference,” he said. “So I’m asking you to say it with me, America: Coronavirus Stops With Me.”
But Adams’ message comes as at least a dozen states are seeing increases in hospitalizations, according to CNN.
"In the last three weeks, I have seen more admissions and sicker patients than on the previous 10 weeks," says Dr. Joseph Varon, the chief medical officer at Houston's United Memorial Medical Center. "It's been an exponential increase on the severity of illness and on the number of cases that we admit."
New Map Helps Users To See Coronavirus Risk From County To County
Thursday July 2, 2020 - Researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute are leading collaboration of scientists from eight different institutions to create a national online risk assessment map that will allow people to look at their state or county and find how likely their exposure is to coronavirus.
Users will see a COVID-19 risk rating in green, yellow or red based on the number of new cases per 100,000 people, NPR reports.
Although there has been lots of local information for the public, made available by state, county and municipal governments, they have been difficult to interpret and understand what they mean in the big picture.
"There hasn't been a unified, national approach to communicating risk, said Danielle Allen, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. "That's made it harder for people."
A community with less than one daily new case per 100,000 is rated green. One to 9 is yellow; from 10 to 24 is orange; and 25 and more is red, according to NPR.
"When you get into that orange and red zone it means, in all likelihood, you're seeing a lot of velocity, a kind of fast upward trend," said Allen.
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.
U.S. Sees Biggest One-Day Spike In Coronavirus Cases
Wednesday, July 1, 2020 - COVID-19 cases in the United States increased by more than 47,000 in the United States, the largest one-day rise since the pandemic began, Reuters reports. Making matter worse, the nation’s top infectious disease expert says that figure could more than double.
“Clearly we are not in total control right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday (June 30) in a U.S. Senate committee hearing. “I am very concerned because it could get very bad.”
Fauci noted that the daily increase in new cases could go up to as much as 100,000 unless a national effort was made to decrease the spread of the disease. California, Texas and Arizona have emerged as new epicenters for coronavirus, each of them have reported record increases.
“We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk,” Fauci said.
According to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, there are 2.6 million cases in the United States, with 127,000 deaths. Globally there are a confirmed 10 million cases with more than 511,000 deaths.
Black, Latino Residents In California Hit Harder By Coronvirus Partially Because Of Racism
Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - As the number of coronavirus cases have increased in California, the people hit hardest are those of color.
According to data released by Los Angeles county last week, Black and Latino residents have double the mortality rate from the virus than white residents, shining a bright spotlight on the clear health inequities that persist in that state.
Black and Latino residents are facing high poverty rates or conversely work in jobs that require that put them at a higher risk where they are forced to have to leave home as essential workers like food production and health care workers. Add on the daily stress of racism, which seems to be at a peak these days but has generational impact and implications, and you will see a significant toll on your physical and mental health and wellness.
“Of every 100,000 Latino residents of L.A. County, 38 have died from COVID-19. It’s the first time the Latino coronavirus death rate has surpassed that of Black residents in L.A. County, which also continues to be disproportionately high. Of every 100,000 Black residents, 37 have died,” reports the L.A. Times.
White residents, however, have seen for every 100,000 residents in L.A. county, only 19 have died.
Other contributing factors include Black and Latino residents in L.A. County suffering from pre-existing ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma and are the main individuals in nursing homes.
NYC Health + Hospitals Takes The Lead
June 15, 2020: New York City: In an effort to suppress the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the New York City Health + Hospitals, the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio have come together to announce the creation of a Test and Trace Corps. This group of individuals will manage every aspect of the positive cases of coronavirus they see and collect data under one unified operational system.
In doing so, the hope is to provide additional resources for testing and follow up medical care, particularly for those communities that are more susceptible to the disease. It will also allow for tracing of all those who test positive and their close contacts as part of an integrated program. All this, while the city is still officially under lock down with a plan to safely re-open in stages within the next few weeks.
It also means employment opportunities for hundreds of out of work New Yorkers who now have the chance to be hired within the Health + Hospitals structure. The Test and Trace Corps is recruiting, training, and hiring thousands of contact tracers and other positions to meet these goals. As a contact tracer, you’ll investigate cases, trace and monitor contacts, and manage all case data and inquiries.
For more updates on New York City's response to COVID-19, visit Nyc.Gov/CovidTest.
African Americans With Diabetes Facing Higher Coronavirus Risk, Doctor Says
Wednesday, May 20, 2020: Diabetes, a historically consistent health problem in the African American community is now seen as a culprit in coronavirus deaths among Black people, which are the most disproportionately high among demographics in America.
Dr. Jennifer Caudle, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Rowan University told Yahoo News that African Americans are 80 percent more likely than whites to be diagnosed with diabetes, putting patients at higher risk for COVID-19.
“Diabetes is a condition that can affect your whole body in different ways,” she said. “When we talk about African-Americans, what we’ve seen is it’s almost compounded when we talk about COVID-19.”
Data from Chicago show 50 percent of those who died from coronavirus in the city were African American, although Blacks make up roughly 30 percent of the population. For other places, the figures are similar. “We are often making up a large percentage of those who are becoming severely ill with COVID-19 or dying from complications of COVID-19,” said Caudle.
She said people living with diabetes should be aware of the risks involved with coronavirus and take care of themselves.
“We certainly know that people with controlled underlying illness may do better [with COVID-19] than those who don’t have controlled illness,” she said. “We want diabetes to be under control.” -- Madison J. Gray
Poll: Black People Want More States To Slow Down Nationwide Reopening
Wednesday May 13, 2020: Coronavirus cases continue to affect African Americans disproportionately on a nationwide basis with new data coming from states and municipalities showing the consistent number of infections and fatalities.
Despite the number of cases decreasing in some places and remaining constant in others, Black people are still concerned about how the reopening of businesses and public areas will affect them. As we know, African Americans are overall statistically more vulnerable than whites to contract the disease. But according to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll, almost 3 in 4 people said the U.S. should keep trying to slow the spread of coronavirus, even if that means businesses remain closed. For African Americans it was 9 in 10.
“It’s clear that there’s a disproportionate impact of covid-19 diagnoses and deaths among African Americans,” Gregorio Millett, vice president of Amfar, the Foundation for AIDS Research told The Post. “All of my colleagues fear that with these policies to open up communities, that the brunt of the covid-19 epidemic is not going to be borne equally on all communities, that we will likely see greater covid-19 deaths as well as cases in African American communities.”
The pandemic has also affected the employment outlook for Black people. In another Post-Ipsos poll, 16 percent of African Americans say they have lost their jobs since the beginning of the virus spread. For whites that number was 11 percent. — Madison J. Gray
Study: Counties With Majority Black Residents Have Triple The Coronavirus Infections Of White Counties
Monday May 11, 2020: In urban areas, the figures on disproportionate COVID-19 infection and death rates among African Americans have been snowballing for weeks. Cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans and others have seen rates of 70 percent or more and in other places like Prince George’s County, Maryland and Richmond, Virginia have experienced sudden surges.
Now, there is new data showing that counties with the highest African American population proportions are also experiencing the highest death rates, according to Bloomberg News. In fact, the higher the Black population, the worse the health disparity.
In an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau numbers and data from Johns Hopkins University, in areas where the Black population is more than 13.4 percent — which is their proportion of the national population — the death rate is almost twice that of the national average. However, according to an April article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the data shows that the infection rate is triple the rate compared to majority white counties where the deaths of Black individuals increase six-fold.
Although many areas have not provided specific racial infection data, healthcare disparities among nonwhite communities are being blamed. Comorbidities that are too common among African Americans like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and heart disease factor in as ailments that coronavirus exploits, the article notes.
"There is nothing different biologically about race. It is the conditions of our lives," Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, PhD, former president of the American Public Health Association, told MedPage Today. "We have to acknowledge that now and always."
President Trump promised more data on race and coronavirus would be available in April, but that was pushed back to “early May” by federal officials. But the Trump administration has said that early findings indicate that more testing for the virus is needed in minority neighborhoods. To lead his Black outreach strategy, Trump has tapped Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who says he will make a presentation at the White House this month, according to South Carolina newspaper The State. — Madison J. Gray
Despite Harsh Impact of Coronavirus Black Faith Remains Unbroken
Monday, May 4, 2020: The effects coronavirus is having on health and well being within the African American community has become all too obvious as documentation from state governments as well as the federal government becomes available.
But despite all the ways in which the pandemic is affecting people of color, religious faith among Black people has not waivered one bit, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.
The survey shows that 56 percent of people who attend historically African American churches say their faith has strengthened since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, despite many of their houses of worship being closed.
Black people are also more likely than whites (35 percent) to say their faith has grown during the pandemic, according to the research. It was, however, unclear how many African Americans have converted to watching church services online, but Pew said 57 percent of adults, who attend services at least monthly, say they have watched online or religious programming on television due to the pandemic.
African Americans of faith have unfortunately had their faith vastly tested with the loss of several key figures in their churches and mosques. In the Church of God In Christ, several important and influential leaders have been taken by COVID-19, costing the denomination 30 bishops and clergy.
“This will change the ecosystem of Black church life,” Anthea Butler, a University of Pennsylvania associate professor of religious studies told The Washington Post recently. “It’s showing the inequities of health disparities and economic disparities in the black community.”
There are places where the faithful are mobilizing against coronavirus. In Philadelphia, the West Philadelphia Seventh Day Adventist Church has stepped up as a beacon to their community by providing testing for people in the neighborhood.
“When times get dark, the church demonstrates its relevance. What you’re seeing now is the church, as it has always been in the Black community in particular, filling the place where government and social-economics fail,” Pastor Nick Taliaferro told the Philadelphia Tribune.
Also, a group called The National Black Muslim COVID Coalition has conducted their own survey to compile information about how the disease is affecting Islamic communities.
“This is something many of us have thought about and wanted to do for our communities, and the pandemic was definitely a catalyst for it,” Asha Noor, who represents the coalition, recently told Religion News Service. “Our community’s voices are really important, and they're critically important during moments of crisis and conflict like this.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says African Americans make up 28.5 percent of coronavirus cases for which racial backgrounds are reported.- Madison J. Gray
Black Scientists Hope To Begin Antiviral Drug Testing For Coronavirus In Two Weeks
A laboratory at Nashville’s Meharry Medical College is reportedly two weeks away from testing an anti-virus to prevent the coronavirus.
Dr. Donald Alcendor, who worked on a successful anti-virus to the Zika virus, told NBC News that the disproportionate level of positive testing for COVID-19 among African Americans further compels everyone at Meharry to do their best. The school was founded in 1876 to teach medicine to Black people who had been enslaved.
“This is bigger than COVID-19,” said Dr. Linda Witt, the senior associate vice president for development at the HBCU. “We are called to serve on the front lines. For Meharrians, it’s natural to go into our communities. We exist in the Black community. But it’s at a heightened level now. And having an HBCU presence, voice and expertise is essential.”
Pharmaceutical companies and scientists are scurrying to create a drug to treat the coronavirus. Alcendor says he embraces his role in the race for the cure.
“Usually, we all wear different hats and do various jobs,” Alcendor said. “The process is understanding how the virus gets into your system, where it goes and how it infects,” Alcendor said about developing an antiviral drug. “The struggle is that it is a single-strand that produces tremendous inflammation. The patient will feel like he’s drowning.” -- BET Staff
Global Coronavirus Cases Pass 3 Million Leaves Few Answers For African Americans
Monday, April 27, 2020: Coronavirus hit a sad, but sobering, threshold on Monday as the number of cases worldwide crossed a critical mark.
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that 3,017,806 people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19 with 209,661 deaths and 885,302 recoveries. The United States, once with the fewest known cases, now eclipses other nations with 979,077 cases, and 55,563 deaths and 107,526 recoveries.
The number comes just two weeks after global cases hit 2 million. With no cure nor a vaccine within sight of at least a year and practical treatments falling into the sphere of political debate, nations continue to try to guide its citizenry on exactly how to live in with an unprecedented pandemic while attempting to rescue their economies.
In the United States, New York and New Jersey remain the hardest high states although officials report gradual signs of a slow down in the number of infections and daily death tolls. Other states are looking at loosening restrictions or allowing businesses to open up despite public health warnings that it could be too soon.
That remains a concern in the African American community where data from several cities show that Black people are hit disproportionately harder by the virus largely as a result of existing disparities.
In Richmond, Virginia, for example, each of the eight people who died of COVID-19 are Black and yet, African Americans comprise 48 percent of the city’s population. On a broader scale, African Americans comprise of 28 percent of COVID-19 related deaths in New York City although they make up 22 percent of the population.
National data is still sketchy because not every state or municipality has been collecting data on coronavirus patients by race. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released data for cases in which race was specified and their results find that 92,164 or 29.5 percent of Americans who have tested positive are identidy as Black/African American.
Cases of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease stand as underlying conditions that COVID-19 exploits to sicken and eventually kill African Americans, health care data shows. But it is still difficult to gauge exactly how badly coronavirus has truly hurt Black people because only half of all states have released demographic information on how many people have actually died, according to the Associated Press.
“It’s America’s unfinished business -- we’re free, but not equal,” civil rights leader and head of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Rev. Jesse Jackson told the AP. “There’s a reality check that has been brought by the coronavirus, that exposes the weakness and the opportunity.”— Madison J. Gray
Study: African Americans Have High Rate of COVID-19 Hospitalizations
Although broad comprehensive nationwide datasets showing exactly how African Americans are affected by coronavirus have not become available, a new study shows 1 in 3 people who need hospitalization for the disease are Black.
The research, which studied a group of 1,500 people in 14 states, was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that while white people comprise 45 percent of the hospitalizations, they make up 76 percent of the nation’s population. By contrast, Black people are 33 percent of those hospitalized, but are 13 percent of the population. Latinos made up only 8 percent, but are 18 percent of the U.S. population.
The results of the study appear in the medical publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, NPR reported Friday.
Those hospitalized were mostly aged 65 years or older and 54 percent were men. Symptoms at the time of admission included coughing, at 86 percent; fever or chills, at 85 percent; and shortness of breath at 80 percent.
"These findings underscore the importance of preventive measures (e.g., social distancing, respiratory hygiene, and wearing face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain)," the study’s authors wrote, "to protect older adults and persons with underlying medical conditions, as well as the general public."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said at a press briefing this week that African Americans are not necessarily more likely to be infected by coronavirus, but "underlying medical conditions, [including] diabetes, hypertension, obesity, [and] asthma" increase the likelihood that Black people end up in an intensive care unit or face fatality from the disease.” -- BET Staff
Detroit Will Be First City to Try 15-Minute Coronavirus Testing
Thursday, April 2, 2020: Testing for coronavirus usually takes days to receive results, but beginning Thursday (April 2), Detroit will be the first city to complete tests in a matter of minutes.
According to WXYZ, Detroit has access to special coronavirus test kits that can receive results in 15 minutes. Testing with the new kits has started for city police, first responders and bus drivers.
First responders in Detroit have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Receiving the test results in minutes could be a major game changer in the fight against the pandemic allowing infected patients to be identified before they even show any symptoms.
On Friday (March 27), Mayor Mike Duggan announced that police chief James Craig tested positive for the disease, marking the 91th person (75 officers and 15 other department employees) fighting the virus and putting 468 officers in quarantine. Detroit’s Fire Department currently has 17 employees who have tested positive with 146 workers in quarantine.
According to the Detroit News, the city hopes to conduct 1,000 coronavirus tests daily.--Vanessa Etienne
Democratic National Convention Postponed Til August Due To Coronavirus Concerns
The Democratic National Convention, which had been scheduled for July in Milwaukee, has been postponed until August 17.
While Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are continuing their campaigns for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, the convention — where the party's nominee is officially selected by the delegates — has been pushed back due to coronavirus concerns and the extension of shelter-in-place orders across the country. The announcement was made Thursday (April 2) morning.
“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention,” Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said in a statement Thursday. “During this critical time, when the scope and scale of the pandemic and its impact remain unknown, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of health care professionals and emergency responders.”
15 states have postponed their primaries in the wake of COVID-19, according to the New York Times. Wisconsin is holding firm to its April 7th date, but the governor plans to send every voter an absentee ballot.
- BET Staff
Coronavirus Stimulus Checks Could Arrive ‘Within Three Weeks’ For Selected People
Wednesday, April 1, 2020: As the unemployment rate spirals out of control and President Donald Trump warns of a “painful” two weeks ahead, the coronavirus stimulus checks promised by the federal government could arrive for some Americans within three weeks.
On March 30, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CBS’ Face the Nation that some payments will go out "within three weeks." However, only if you have your direct deposit information on file with the IRS within the past two years.
He explained, "We will create a web-based system for people where [if] we don't have their direct deposit [information], they can upload it so that they can get the money immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.”
NBC News explains, “Payments up to $1,200 per person, with an additional $500 per child under 17, will be made to U.S. residents with Social Security numbers who earn under $75,000. The amount decreases by $5 per every $100 earned after that, zeroing out at $99,000. For married couples, the phaseout range is $150,000 to $198,000.”
It’s not clear how everyone else will or when they will receive the stimulus check but NBC News reports, “The IRS said Americans who weren't required to file taxes in the last two years will have to file a ‘simple tax return’ with basic information like filing status, number of dependents and bank information so the government can send the money.”
In a bizarre twist, Trump reportedly wants his signature on each of those check payments, according to The Wall Street Journal. When asked to verify, the White House refused to comment. - BET Staff
Organizers Stunned After Coronavirus Hits Attendees of Black Ski Event
Tuesday, March 31, 2020: Several attendees of an Idaho ski event targeted at African American ski enthusiasts have tested positive for coronavirus, which apparently hit the annual gathering before anyone realized the danger the disease would eventually pose.
“It was at a time when the serious nature of coronavirus was not conveyed by the supposed leadership of the country,” said Brad Corbin who has attended the National Brotherhood of Skiers’ ski summit regularly for the last 25 years. “I’m sure it would have been canceled. But it was classified as a ‘hoax.’
Corbin told NBC News that he missed the event this year because he didn’t want to go to the Sun Valley, Idaho location. But feels he dodged a bullet because six of the 600 who were in attendance have already been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Only after the event took place, the organization notified its 3,000 members that attendees from Ft. Washington, Md., Detroit, Washington D.C., and New York had tested positive.
“Our hearts and prayers are with everyone and every family that has encountered COVID-19, the flu, pneumonia or any other virus that is affecting our population,” read an email from the group. “We wish you a swift and speedy recovery. Please keep each other in your prayers and stay safe.”
National Brotherhood of Skiers’ president Peggie Allen, along with Sun Valley and Ketchum, Idaho mayors Peter Hendricks and Neil Bradshaw released a statement addressing the news of the infections.
“There is no evidence as to when and how the virus first entered Sun Valley or Ketchum. Sun Valley is a ski destination which hosts national and international tourists,” the statement said. “It had numerous visiting guests and organizations before, and during the same time the NBS members were visiting. It is virtually impossible to pinpoint a group or person who were carriers of the virus.”
“We all love this valley and our main concern now is that everyone who has been affected in the NBS and other groups, and in all of Blaine County, recovers in better health. Know we are here to support them,” the statement said.
Around the time of the event, Feb. 27 to March 7, infections around the country had yet to skyrocket to the levels they are currently and officials were not focused on it as they were in China, which was at the time leading the world in infections and deaths from coronavirus.
“This unfortunate case at the Black ski summit validates all the suggested precautions that have been repeated over the last several weeks,” he added. “All the things suggested we do now are on target and appropriate when you hear about situations from early March,” Dr. Pierre Vigilance, a former associate dean at George Washington University’s School of Public Health told NBC News.
“The big takeaway is that we do not know who we are putting at risk for the sake of a social event. And while we may not have known the extent that we do now, our behavior related to social interchanges has to change.” -- Madison J. Gray
FDA Gives Emergency Approval For Malarial Drug To Treat Coronavirus
Monday, March 30, 2020: A drug used to treat malaria patients has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to treat coronavirus, despite it being unproven as a medicine for patients of the disease.
The FDA announced emergency approval of the Trump Administration’s plan to distribute the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to hospitals across the nation to fight respiratory symptoms caused by COVID-19.
But the drugs have side effects and doctors say they could become widespread as they are distributed. "The concern really is if we’re talking millions of patients, then this issue of drug induced sudden cardiac death is absolutely going to rear its ugly head,’’ said Dr. Michael Ackerman, a pediatric cardiologist and professor at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, told The Washington Post.
Because there are currently no other treatments for coronavirus available, the FDA was willing to take the risk, according to an approval letter.
"It is reasonable to believe that chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate may be effective in treating covid-19,'' FDA chief scientist, Denise Hinton, wrote in the letter.
Other countries, it cites, have adopted the drug as a treatment. But warnings have reportedly come out of Nigeria claiming that patients have suffered poisoning from choloroquine.
Its health ministry has said there is no hard evidence the drug can really treat coronavirus.
Dr. Michel Yao, an Africa emergency response program manager for the World Health Organization, also told CNN that there are at least 20 different drugs and the same number of vaccines under clinical trials. Yao continued saying that it is too early to make any recommendations about the effectiveness of any treatment of the virus.
“It is difficult for us to recommend at this stage that any of the medicine can be of use for the treatment of coronavirus,” Yao said. “It is too early to rush to the decision that chloroquine … at least for WHO to recommend it for the treatment of coronavirus.” -- Madison J. Gray
Louisiana Pastor Refuses To Obey Coronavirus Order Preaching To Over 1,000 People At Church Service
March 25, 2020: The coronavirus is quickly spreading in Louisiana but a lone wolf pastor claims it is all about the politics.
Tony Spell, the pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana had over 1,100 people at his church services on Sunday, March 22. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has already ordered everyone to avoid crowds of 50 or more in an act of social distancing to avoid the further spreading of the COVID-19 disease.
According to WAFB, Spell said, "It’s not a concern. The virus, we believe, is politically motivated. We hold our religious rights dear and we are going to assemble no matter what someone says."
He also added, "We have 27 buses on Sundays picking up people in a five-parish area.”
Spell claimed police showed up and told him that the National Guard would be sure to break up any future gatherings that exceed 50 people. However, NBC News reports a National Guard spokesman said “it is not involved in the matter and has no role in enforcing social distancing requirements as set by Gov. John Bel Edwards.”
In response to his actions, a Change.Org petition has called for Spell to be prosecuted.
“We ask our Governor to have Spell arrested immediately and charged with 1800 counts of reckless endangerment for a start, for the countless lives he will be brutalizing and even ending with his selfishness and ignorance. We further ask that he be made personally to answer legally for each and every infection and death in the 5 parishes surrounding his church in East Baton Rouge Parish occuring anytime after 17 March 2020,” the petition reads.
There are currently over 5,000 signatures in support of the petition’s efforts.
Spell also said if anyone in his congregation is infected with the coronavirus, he will heal them through God. See the news clip below:
Johns Hopkins University researchers report as of today, March 25, more than 55,000 people in the United States are infected with the coronavirus and more than 800 have died. Over 1,700 cases have been reported in Louisiana and at least 65 deaths. Globally 441,000 people have been infected, with a death total of at least 19,784.
For the latest on the coronavirus, contact your local health department and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. -- BET Staff
Texas And Ohio Ban Abortions During The Coronavirus Outbreak
Tuesday, March 24, 2020: Texas has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country. Now, the state has a impleneted a ban on abortions during the coronavrius, pandemic unless the life of the mother is threatened.
According to NBC, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said abortion did not qualify as an “essential” medical procedure. All scheduled abortions are immiadately postponed as of Monday, March 23.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton followed up with a statement that read in part, “No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers. Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law.”
Not complying with the order, which remains in effect until April 21, could result in fines up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.
Related: Alabama’s Near-Total Abortion Ban Temporarily Blocked By Federal Judge
The war on women in Texas has been happening for years. In 2013, former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis stood in front of her colleagues for 13 hours — with no bathroom breaks — blocking the passing of a controversial anti-abortion bill in her state. However, the Texas House of Representatives passed the controversial anti-abortion bill despite Davis' efforts in a 98-49 vote.
The bill then passed in the Republican-led state Senate in 2013. By 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ruling. However, with teh current Administration, abortion rights have been threatend all over country.
Abortions bans due to the coronavirus is not limited to just the state of Texas. Officials in Ohio have also ordered an indefinite stop on abortion procedures while the pandemic ensues. –BET Staff
Surgeon General: ‘This Week, It’s Going To Get Bad’
Monday, March 23, 2020: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a dire warning concerning the rapid spread of coronavirus across the country and believes that not enough people are taking the deadly disease seriously enough.
“I want America to understand this week, it's going to get bad,” Adams said on NBC’s “TODAY” show.
He explained that the spread is coming from many– especially the young –who are not heeding guidelines to stay at home to mitigate widespread infection. As many municipal and state governments have repeatedly emphasized social distancing and urged people to remain in their homes, multiple reports have come in showing people congregating in parks, at beaches and on streets as they normally would. Adams says that is the opposite of what people should be doing.
“I think there are a lot of people who are doing the right things,” he explained. “But I think that unfortunately, we’re finding out a lot of people think this can’t happen to them.
“Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now,” he continued. “So, test or no test, we need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else. Or you could be getting it from someone else. Stay at home.” – Madison Gray
For the latest on the coronavirus, contact your local health department and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
New York State Becomes Epicenter of Coronavirus Outbreak
Sunday, March 22, 2020: In New York State, the nation’s hardest hit by coronavirus, more than half of the cases there -- 53 percent -- are people aged 18-49, despite the fact that older people are more susceptible to the disease. An annoyed Gov. Mario Cuomo said at a press conference Saturday to those who aren’t taking it seriously: “You’re not Superman and you’re not Superwoman—you can get this virus.”
Cuomo issued a “stay at home” order for the state’s residents that began Sunday evening and mandated that only essential workplaces remain open.
For the latest on the coronavirus, contact your local health department and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
FDA Approves First Rapid ‘Point-Of-Care’ COVID-19 Test That Can Provide Results In 45 Minutes
Saturday, March 21, 2020: Cepheid, a molecular diagnostics company, received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday (March 21) to use its first rapid point-of-care test to detect the novel coronavirus.
The test, named SAR-CoV-2 Xpert Xpress, is designed to be given to patients at the point-of-care and can detect the virus that causes COVID-19 in 45 minutes, which is the fastest test to do so.
According to the Cepheid website, most tests have been known to take days. Cepheid, on the other hand, only takes a minute to prepare the cartridge with a patient sample and approximately 45 minutes to produce results.
“During this time of increased demand for hospital services, Clinicians urgently need an on-demand diagnostic test for real-time management of patients being evaluated for admission to health-care facilities,” Dr. David Persing, Chief Medical and Technology Officer at Cepheid, said.
He continued: “An accurate test delivered close to the patient can be transformative — and help alleviate the pressure that the emergence of the 2019-nCoV outbreak has put on healthcare facilities that need to properly allocate their respiratory isolation resources.”
According to CNBC, the tests will ship next week to central reference labs with plans of using the product by the end of the month.
As of Saturday (March 21), there have been at least 21,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and 267 deaths.
For the latest on the coronavirus, contact your local health department and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. –Paul Meara
New Coronavirus Cases In Prisons Raises Concerns Over An Unprepared System
Friday, March 20, 2020: The first known cases of COVID-19 in the federal correctional system officially emerged on Wednesday (March 18) as the number of infected inmates and staff at local facilities across the country continues to climb.
The new cases have officials concerned about the spread of the COVID-19 disease within the tight quarters that American inmates face.
Sue Allison, an agency spokeswoman, says between Tuesday and Wednesday, a staffer at a medium security federal prison in Berlin, New Hampshire, and an employee at a Bureau of Prisons administrative facility in Grand Prairie, Texas, tested positive for the virus.
On Wednesday, local authorities said corrections officers in New York and Georgia had caught COVID-19, as well as an inmate at New York City's Rikers Island, marking the first case at the notorious jail.
In Arizona, the state's Department of Corrections said Wednesday it would give inmates free hand soap after an advocacy group exposed a lack of cleaning supplies at local prisons.
Prison staffers have previously voiced their concern about an unprepared system, citing short staffing and a lack of proper protective equipment. Criminal justice advocates have been calling for the release of nonviolent offenders and states like Ohio are even considering releasing prisoners to combat the spread.
Courts are assessing all inmates and looking to settle guilty pleas by sending some (presumably violent offenders) to prison, some to house arrest and releasing others entirely. Cuyahoga County judges are holding a special Saturday morning session to deal with the cases, according to local news network WJHW in Cleveland.
The Bureau of Prisons, on Wednesday, notified local health officials about the two cases in New Hampshire and Texas, and has begun an internal risk assessment to determine who might have been exposed to the infected workers.
Civil Rights Advocacy group, Color of Change has launched a new platform dedicated to devestaing consequences that the COVID-19 outbreak will have on prisons and jails and those who work there only to return to their communities.
"With 2.3 million people in the United States in prison or jail on any given day, an outbreak in these facilities poses a threat to the entire country. If federal, state, and local officials take swift action, they can not only prevent the spread of COVID-19 inside prisons, jails, and detention centers and ensure the safety and wellness of our loved ones behind cages, but they can also have an enormous impact on wellness of the rest of the country," the site reads.
For more information on how you can help visit humaneoutbreakresponse.org-- Paul Meara
Rep. Maxine Waters presents fiscal stimulus and public policy plan to fight effects of COVD-19 pandemic
March 19, 2020: Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), has announced plans for a legislative package to spur fiscal stimulus as well as address public policy as the nation continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The 28-item package would focus on several areas where the population could be affected by the fallout from the disease spread including but not limited to:
Providing for at least $2,000 per month for each adult and $1,000 per month for each child.
Suspending all consumer and small business credit card payments.
Prohibiting debt collection, repossession, and garnishment of wages during the pandemic
Providing $5 billion in emergency homeless assistance.
A ban on all evictions, foreclosures, and repossessions--including manufactured homes, RVs, and cars-- nationwide.
Suspension of work and community service requirements in Federal housing programs.
Providing $300 million for servicer coordinators to assist elderly households.
Provide $290 million for fair housing enforcement.
Waters, who is chair of the House Financial Services Committee, also presented about 20 other provisions that focus on helping small businesses, aiding renters, homeowners and the homeless, protecting consumers and assisting state and local governments and territories, along with nine others that focus on rebuilding the economy after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, we have seen the devastating effects on workers, consumers, investors, markets, and the economy,” said Waters.
“Low income communities were already struggling before this crisis began and will likely be hit particularly hard by the coming recession. This is an urgent public health crisis that has quickly harmed our entire economy, and it demands swift and bold action. The Financial Services Committee will play a central role in that response. ”
For the latest on the coronavirus, contact your local health department and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Millennials Key To Stopping U.S. Coronavirus Cases, Official Says
Thursday, March 19, 2020: With news footage of people in Florida sunbathing on the beach and partying in Miami as if there isn’t a pandemic that threatens the global population, the public health care community is doubling down on calls for social distancing and other measures to stop the rise of coronavirus spreading.
The age group they are saying is key to this are millennials, those who are currently aged 23-38. While people who are older than 65 are seen asmost vulnerable because of weaker immune systems and other health issues that come with age, younger people tend to be less susceptible to symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
Dr. Deborah Birx, who is the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, said the way millennials have become so good at sharing information in such a fastidious manner and acting on it is critical to stopping the pandemic.
“The millennials are incredibly good about getting information out in a clear way, but more importantly, they are incredibly good about understanding how to protect one another, how to protect their parents, and how to protect their grandparents," Birx said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
"Right now we need the army of millennials out there doing everything that they can to protect themselves from getting infected because we know a lot of their cases will be mild or asymptomatic, and making sure that they're doing every single precaution to protect their parents and grandparents," she said.
Mitchell Donovan, 23, the Utah Jazz guard who tested positive for coronavirus last week said what scared him most was that he was asymptomatic.
"I could walk down the street if it wasn't public knowledge that I was sick. You wouldn't know it," he told ABC News. "I think that's the scariest part about this virus. You may seem fine, be fine and you never know who you may be talking to, who they're going home to."
Millenials are currently the largest demographic age group in America at about 71 million. Birx said those numbers make it clear why that age group is so important.
"When you look at data, it's very important to integrate both health data and public health data and cases with census," Brix said. "If you look at every large city across America at the census bar graph, you'll see that in every single case the largest numbers, about 22% in many cities, are millennials."
61-Year-Old Retired Nurse From Chicago's South Side Becomes Illinois' First Coronavirus Related Death
March 18, 2020: Patricia Frieson, a 61-year-old former nurse, becomes the first coronavirus-related death in Illinois.
The Chicago native passed away late Monday night (March 16) at the University of Chicago Medical Center, according to the medical examiner.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced the news at a press conference Tuesday.
"I'm deeply saddened to share the news that I have dreaded since the earliest days of this outbreak," Pritzker said.
The medical examiner has yet to make an officialy determination on whether or not the virus caused her death, however she had tested positive for it before she died.
Frieson’s family said she suffered from severe asthma and when she went to the hospital last Thursday, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and then COVID-19.
“(She) had struggled with pain for her entire life,” said her brother, Anthony Frieson, according to WGN9. “She became a nurse to care for people. She had a deep love of God, Holy Spirit, and she lived a life trying to follow God’s will in everything she did and said.”
Frieson was a retired floor and traveling nurse who attended school in Arkansas. One of her sisters is currently under surveillance at a hospital and is reportedly experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus disease.
“It is real. It is real. There is no fooling around with this,” Anthony Frieson said. “I know my sister had pre-existing conditions but it’s a very serious condition when you get these symptoms. … It’s terrible. We lost a wonderful person. … Everyone needs to take this as serious as possible.”
News For Parents On Coronovirus And Kids
March 17, 2020: As more schools close and parents are forced to have long and complicated conversations with younger kids and teens about social distancing, it can be hard for younger minds to accept the current state of our world.
Dr. Stephanie Miles-Richardson, associate dean, Graduate Education in Public Health at Morehouse School of Medicine says that while the coronavirus could take a heavier toll on the Black community, children are actually stronger than we think.
“The good news is that the young people appear to be spared from ill effects because again, likely their immune systems are stronger,” said Miles-Richardson.
“Of course if they have some other compromises, that’s different. So the message for them is to Wash! Their! Hands! When they’re out playing, if they’re not social distancing, if they’re being regular kids, they’ve just got to wash their hands often. We also have to stress hygiene and be very careful about children who live around elders because kids who are more likely to be asymptomatic are less likely to be impacted and elders are more likely to be overly impacted.”
Small Businesses To Receive $2 Million In Coronavirus Support
Tuesday, March 17, 2020: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that they will provide up to $2 million in loans for businesses impacted by the coronavirus.
According to a news release on March 12, the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans will help businesses facing temporary loss of revenue as well as working capital. SBA Administrator Jovitta Carranza made the announcement.
“The President took bold, decisive action to make our 30 million small businesses more resilient to coronavirus-related economic disruptions,” said Carranza in the release. “Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state, and they have helped make our economy the strongest in the world.”
The loans can be used to pay debts, including payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years,” the statement continued. “Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay…The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses that can’t secure credit elsewhere. Businesses with credit availability are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75 percent.”
The loan program was used in the past to help companies recover from disasters like Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
To be eligible, the business must have 500 or fewer employees and be in a designated disaster area. The business also must not be able to obtain credit from elsewhere. For more information, visit sba.gov —Vanessa Etienne
First U.S. Human Trial For Coronavirus Vaccine Begins Monday
Monday, March 16, 2020: U.S. health officials have confirmed that the first human trial testing of a potential vaccine to prevent the coronavirus began Monday (March 16).
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement Monday that finding “a safe and effective vaccine” to prevent infection from the new COVID-19 “is an urgent public health priority.”
He continued: “This Phase 1 study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal.”
The National Institutes of Health has reportedly been fast-tracking a collaboration with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna to develop a vaccine.
The trial is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, Washington, where COVID-19 cases have surged.
According to trial details on NIH’s website, Phase 1 of the trial will test the vaccine on 45 males and non-pregnant females between the ages of 18 and 55. Dr. Lisa Jackson, a senior investigator at Kaiser, said. “This work is critical to national efforts to respond to the threat of this emerging virus. We are prepared to conduct this important trial because of our experience as an NIH clinical trials center since 2007.”
The New York Times reports at least 3,600 people in the United States are infected with the coronavirus. The number is more than likely higher all over the country but the Trump administration’s testing failures have limited medical professionals on the frontlines of the virus.