COVID-19 In 2021: The Latest Updates, Facts And News Impacting The Global Black Community

COVID-19 In 2021: The Latest Updates, Facts And News Impacting The Global Black Community

COVID-19 In 2021: The Latest Updates, Facts And News Impacting The Global Black Community

0
0


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

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

___________________________________________________________

Vaccinated People Are Able To Gather Without Masks, CDC Announces

March 8, 2020

Federal Health officials say that fully vaccinated people are able to gather indoors with others who are vaccinated without wearing a mask.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the announcement on Monday, which addresses questions from people who have received their vaccine doses about what they are able to do socially, or if they can return to some of the things they did before the pandemic.

“We know that people want to get vaccinated so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy with the people they love,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said in a statement.

Also, vaccinated people can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household (for example, family members who live under one roof), unless anyone they live with is at increased COVID-19 risk. They can also refrain from quarantining and testing after a known exposure if they are asymptomatic.

However in public, people who are fully vaccinate, as well as others, should continue to observe precautions to prevent coronavirus spread like wearing a mask, social distancing and frequent hand washing and also avoid large gatherings.

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

Johnson & Johnson One-Shot Coronavirus Vaccine Is Deemed Effective

Feb. 24, 2020

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says Johnson & Johnson’s single dose vaccine is safe to use and can protect against transmission of coronavirus. That moves analysis of the drug along toward independent advisors who will determine if it can be recommended for use, CBS News reports. If that happens, the agency will make a decision on greenlighting it.

FDA scientists say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is 66 percent effective at guarding against moderate to severe COVID-19, and that it meets requirements for emergency use authorization.

The company tested the single-dose drug on 44,000 people in the United States, Latin America and South Africa. Researchers with the company said the vaccine worked best in the U.S., at 72% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19, compared with 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa, according to a statement from the company in January.

The two-shot vaccines available in the U.S., from Moderna and Pfizer are harder to handle because they must be kept frozen but the J&J singe-shot drug can be kept in the refrigerator for three weeks. Another vaccine, made by AstraZeneca, can also be refrigerated, but like the other two available, it requires two shots. This has contributed to a lack of availability of the vaccine in many places, complicated by rough weather conditions around the country.

If J&J’s shot is cleared, it still won’t boost vaccine availability. Nationwide about 130 million doses have been administered, primarily to the elderly, front line workers  and others who qualify, but demand is growing as numbers of new infections begin to decline.

But the company expects to fall short of the promised 10 million doses it said it would have available by the end of February. Less than 4 million doses are available to ship. That realization comes as the country surpassed the grim milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths this week.

———————————————

Baltimore Leaders Facing Fight To Get Black Community Vaccinated Against Coronavirus

Feb. 23, 2020

Racial disparities are persisting between Americans when it comes to receiving the coronavirus vaccine. Nationwide race demographics are known for 54.4 percent of people who had taken at least one dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of this number, 64 percent was white, while 6.4 percent were Black. That apparently reflects factors of mistrust and lack of access widely reported among the Black community, affecting getting the vaccine.

Baltimore is an example of what has been happening with Black people and the vaccine. African Americans are 62 percent of the population, but make up only 32 percent of vaccinations, CBS News reports.

The barriers in that city are a challenge to overcome and there are multiple factors that play a role in vaccine inequity. Watch the CBS This Morning report below for a report on how the community is dealing with it.

——————————-

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

Feb. 17, 2020

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

The study, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, shows between January and June 2020, U.S. life expectancy dropped by a full year. But the group hit hardest within the demographic data are Black men.

Public health officials have long known that the African American community is disproportionately affected by coronavirus because of the prevalence of pre-existing conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart disease that the virus exacerbates and exploits.

But it has affected Black men so severely  that life expectancy has reduced to levels similar to two of the peak years of World War II, 1942 and 1943. At that time, average American lifespan dropped to about 2.9 years. For Black women, according to the data, the number currently is about 2.4 years.

Gains in Black American life expectancy had been increasing for several generations. In 1900, for example, Black people were living 14 years shorter than white people. By 2019, though there was still a discrepancy , the gap was down to 4.1 years.

Now due to the coronavirus pandemic, the gap for Black Americans is now at  six years.

“This kind of excess mortality is representing structural inequalities that have existed for a long time that increase both the risk of exposure to virus and the risk of dying from the virus,” said Noreen Goldman, professor of demography and public affairs at Princeton University’s Office of Population Research.

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

—————————————–

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

Feb. 9, 2021

Apprehension in the Black community about taking the coronavirus vaccine is now well known. It is also clear why: fears from past history about racist scientific experiments with Black lives by medical researchers.

One of the most typically cited episodes of these incidents is the Tuskegee Experiment in which a group of Black men in Tuskegee, Ala who were infected with syphilis went without treatment in a study that lasted from 1932 to 1972, despite being told they were being treated for “bad blood.”

But a little known event that has residents of Savannah, Ga., wary is the mosquito experiments of the 1950s, in one, known as “Operation Big Buzz,” the U.S. military released hundreds of thousands yellow fever mosquitoes, experimenting with entomological warfare.

The point of the experiment was to gauge the feasibility of breeding, storing and placing the insects into munitions for warfare purposes.  Many believed the insects were infected with disease, although none of them were and there were no reports of anyone contracting the disease as a result.

In “Operation Big Buzz” the U.S. Army Chemical Corps released uninfected female mosquitoes into  Savannah’s Carver Village in 1956 and later estimated the number that entered homes and bit victims.

Declassified files from the military say that residents cooperated in the experiment, but Chatham County Commission Chairman Chester Ellis contradicted that.

“They didn’t tell anybody, and it happened,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And so that leaves some apprehension, especially when you have residents of that area who’ve been there since the ’50s.

“And so my job as neighborhood president, and also as chairman of the County Commission, is to kind of calm the storm down to let them know that this vaccination is not like that,” Ellis explained.

The AJC reports that a Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that 43 percent of Blacks have taken a “wait-and-see” approach to getting vaccinated against COVID-19. That makes sense given things like the Tuskegee Experiment and “Operation Big Buzz”

“This has been the only system of America that American descendants of slaves know, and therefore there are automatic cautions to survival,” Savannah activist Natavia Sanders told the AJC.

Ellis, who is seeking historic designation for Carver Village, says that although the mosquitoes were not supposed to have been infected, he believes they were infected with malaria, although the military document says they were uninfected yellow fever mosquitoes.

In Georgia, Black people are 32.6 percent of the population, but 36 percent of all coronavirus deaths. Because of this Ellis encourages Black people to take the vaccine when they are eligible.

“African Americans are dying at a higher rate,” said Ellis, who has taken the vaccine. “And so it behooves us to take the vaccine, especially since the new strains coming out, across the water now is more infectious, and is much easier to spread.

“We ought to have a higher rate of African Americans having the vaccine,” he continued. “And there’s not an experiment on anybody, because they’ve given it to everyone. It’s just that we are more vulnerable.”

That means he is concerned about people getting access to the vaccine, which has become a nationwide problem.

“Folks in the deprived neighborhoods, they just don’t have the transportation to get to the health department,” Ellis said. “So that becomes a challenge for them, more than remembering about Big Buzz.”

Tyler Perry Asks Questions, Gets Answers About Coronavirus Vaccine — Then Takes The Shot

Jan. 27, 2021

Filmmaker Tyler Perry was once skeptical about taking the coronavirus vaccine, a skepticism he shared with many in the Black community given the history of racism in medical practice.

But he also knows that Black Americans are disproportionately affected by the pandemic with Black, Hispanic and Native Americans, dying at almost three times the rate of white Americans, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What’s more, one in three Black Americans are hesitant about getting the vaccine.

“I was skeptical because if you look at our history in this country with the Tuskegee ExperimentHenrietta Lacks and things like that, it raises flags for us as African American people so I understand why there’s a healthy skepticism about the vaccine,” he told Gayle King on CBS This Morning.

RELATED: Black Americans Are Being Vaccinated For COVID-19 At A Much Lower Rate

So when doctors from Grady Health System in Atlanta approached him about publicly taking the vaccine, rather than shunning it, he began to ask questions and decided to put it all together in a special airing on BET on Thursday  (Jan 28) at 9 p.m.

He got specific with doctors and asked them to explain medical jargon in layman’s terms so that both he and the public can understand what the vaccine is and is not.

“I wanted to understand the technology. I mean, we talked about everything from the Spanish Flu of 1918 to what is happening now to where it came from,” said Perry. “But I think my top question was understanding mRNA technology and Dr. Kimberly Manning and Dr. [Carlos] Del Rio did an amazing job at explaining how this new technology has helped to come up with a vaccine so quickly.”

Perry said that when he heard terms like “warp speed,” referring to the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed initiative to deliver a vaccine to the public, he became concerned. That same concern also fueled skepticism among Black people about a drug developed so fast, when typically it takes years for a vaccine to make it from the lab to clinics.

“This last administration and all the pressure they were putting on the CDC and FDA, I didn’t really feel like I could trust it but once I got all the information, found out the researchers, I was very, very happy.”

A study from Kaiser Health News shows that Black people in America are getting vaccinated at much lower rates than white people. Roughly three percent of Americans have been administered at least their first dose of the vaccine, but among states that release data by race, whites outpace African Americans by as much as two to three times as much.

“My concern now is if we don’t vaccinate the population that’s highest-risk, we’re going to see even more disproportional deaths in Black and brown communities,” said Dr. Fola May who is a health equity researcher at UCLA.

Perry’s special is aimed at addressing the concerns of Black people when it comes to getting vaccinated by showing the facts and dispelling myths and disinformation. He says getting top medical professionals like Manning and Del Rio to help him communicate the message will help build confidence.

“I’ve got people who love what I do and kind of follow me, so I think once they get the information that it will help them,” he said. “What I told them is I’m not taking this vaccine because I want you to take it, I want to give you the information so you can make your own choices. So I think that’s what it’s about, education and information.”

During the special, Perry himself is administered the Pfizer vaccine and said he had no significant adverse reaction outside of a few aches after his second shot. But he’s glad he took it.

“So you’re making the choice of getting a vaccine,” he said. “ And,even though it’s 95, 96 percent efficacy, what happens is you are reducing your chances of ending up in the ICU by 100 percent.”

“COVID-19 Vaccine and the Black Community: A Tyler Perry Special” airs at 9 p.m., Thursday Jan. 29 on BET and BET Her.

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

————————-

Black Doctors Seeking To Address Coronavirus Vaccine Hesitancy With Real Communication

Jan. 26, 2021

Doctors with the National Medical Association, an organization of Black physicians, say they want to take a lead role in addressing the concerns of the African American community about coronavirus vaccines.

Having formed a task force in the last months of the Trump administration, the doctors gave their endorsements of the emergency authorizations for the Pfizer and Moderna drugs, which are currently being administered to front line healthcare workers and the elderly.

But now they are working to create trust with the community in hopes of getting more people to be willing to take the vaccine.

“We realize that Black people are at the highest risk for coronavirus but the least likely to want to take the vaccine, so we’re trying to reverse that,” said Rodney Hood, an NMA doctor who is on the task force told STAT, a medical news website.

RELATED: Black Doctors Are Endorsing ‘Safe And Effective’ COVID-19 Vaccine

Doctors also understand the hesitancy of Black people to take the vaccine given the history of racism in medicine. Gabrielle Perry, a New Orleans clinical epidemiologist, who isn’t with the NMA explained the conflict between that and convincing a reluctant community.

“Medical professionals have to understand that the fear of Covid-19, which is this invisible, looming foe, that fear does not always outweigh the very clear and well-documented danger of going to a health care system that has proven itself to be as deadly as disease,” Perry told STAT. “You can’t look at that hesitancy at face value. Centuries of inhumanity — that’s not easily forgotten.”

So NMA officials say they have heard a flurry of concerns about what the vaccines are, what impact they can have and what worries people.

“I’ve been on a town hall just about every day,” said NMA president Leon McDougle, NMA president and chief diversity officer at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

He told STAT the multiple meetings with community organizations, churches and other groups turn into more questions that his group asks. “These convenings are also informing discussions with the pharmaceutical company scientists that are producing the vaccines, so that when we meet with them, these are questions we can ask.”

For example, there was a concern that the vaccine might cause infertility, but even though that did not seem plausible, they did put the question to pharmaceutical companies producing the vaccine.

“There was some concern that the vaccine was going to be geared to Blacks and that it would cause infertility. That was more of a myth, but we felt it was responsible to ask them about that,” said Hood, who is an internal medicine doctor at San Ysidro Health in Southern California. “They said there was no data showing that.”

The task force has also taken on questions about how other ailments like sickle cell disease or HIV would impact vaccine safety or efficacy. After meeting with two of the major pharmaceutical companies producing the drugs, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, it turns out vaccine trials that had people with those diseases showed no adverse effect, but officials will continue to follow them, said McDougle.

So there is hope that communication about the vaccines that Black people can trust will circulate. But the method is something the doctors say they will be attentive to.

“When we look at all these online strategies — campaigns on social media, a chatbot — we don’t really know yet what is really effective,” Ève Dubé senior researcher at the Québec National Institute of Public Health and anthropologist at Laval University in Canada told STAT. “When it’s someone you know, your doctor, your nurse, your neighbor, your priest, we know that that’s what’s the most effective.”

 

Amazon Offers Help In Getting Americans Vaccinated Against COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

Biden has yet to respond to the request.

__________________________________________________________

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

Monday, Jan. 11

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

The nation, the continent’s fifth most populous, has 1.2 million reported cases, including 32,824 deaths, according to the Associated Press, citing figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the high number of cases in South Africa is because health officials there run more tests than other African nations.

The nation’s seven-day rolling average of new cases went from 19.86 per 100,000 on Dec. 26 to 30.18 on Jan. 9, Johns Hopkins University reports. 966,000 were counted as recovered. 

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

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

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

Despite the relatively low numbers, some in Africa’s health care networks believe things are worse than they seem. “It is possible and very likely that the rate of exposure is much more than what has been reported,” Dr. John N. Nkengasong, the head of Africa C.D.C. told The New York Times.

Meanwhile, South Africa is expecting its first delivery of 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine later in January, the AP says. The priority will be to vaccinate the nation’s health care workers. More doses are expected to come through the WHO’s COVAX vaccine program in April.

Study Shows Blacks More Aggressively Policed For COVID Related Health Violations

Jan. 8, 2021

Black people are four times as likely to be policed and punished for coronavirus violations than whites, a study reveals.

The research, outlined in “Unmasked: Impacts of Pandemic Policing” a report compiled  by the COVID-19 Policing Project, which began last May and published its findings in October, shows that none of the disparities in law enforcement when it comes to people of color diminished since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Not only did the uneven enforcement of Covid-19 public health orders track predictable patterns of policing, it also strengthened and widened the webs of criminalization which ensnare marginalized communities,” the study’s authors Timothy Colman, Pascal Emmer, Andrea Ritchie and Tiffany Wang wrote in an op-ed in The Guardian on Jan. 6. “The Covid-19 Policing Project reviewed public information about enforcement over the past six months and found that Black, Indigenous and people of color (Bipoc) were 2.5 times more likely to be policed and punished for violations of Covid-19 orders than white people. Black people specifically were 4.5 times more likely to be policed and punished for coronavirus orders than white people.”

The researchers’ findings showed that Black women, who have a significant presence in healthcare and essential service jobs, have the highest rates of racial disparities in enforcement of public health orders related to coronavirus. That particular group is five times more likely than white women to face punishment. Black men are 3.7 times as likely as white men to face police action for violations.

Black people  are already disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. According to APM Research Lab, Black and Indigenous populations’ COVID-19 death rate is higher  than 1 in 750. Aggressively policing those populations, the authors say, is not helping an already dire situation.

The way forward through the raging pandemic and devastating economic crisis doesn’t lie in more surveillance, policing and punishment of marginalized communities – it lies in the demands to stop pouring money and resources into policing and start pouring resources into people and communities,” the essay says.

Paramedics of the LAFD Station

Paramedics of the LAFD Station

Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If people can be transported to the hospital, there is a long wait. EMT Jimmy Webb told CNN affiliate KCAL, “We are waiting two to four hours minimum to a hospital and now we are having to drive even further… then wait another three hours.”

A quick rollout of the vaccine was expected to curb infections. The Trump administration promised  20 million people vaccinated by New Year’s Day. Only 4.6 million have received the vaccine, according to The New York Times.

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

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

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

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

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

“Consult with people who have the credentials to answer the questions — not emotional questions, not political questions, but medical questions,” the Democrat, who represents Dallas, told The Dallas Morning News. “When they get information from people they trust, they will feel confident about it.”

Johnson, became the first registered nurse elected to Congress in 1993, and is also Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. But with experiences steeped in healthcare in the Black community, she says she understands why there is mistrust among so many.

“There’s great skepticism for experimentation,” Johnson told the Morning News. “They have a history of being abused. They have a history of not being included in field testing. I don’t have any doubt that there will be questions.”

Incidents like the infamous Tuskegee Experiment where a group of Black men infected with syphilis were not treated for decades, and the use of Baltimore woman Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells for biomedical research, still resound among African Americans. So there is fear that the experimentation will continue through this vaccine.

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

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

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

Slowly, more African Americans have said that they would take a vaccine once available. In October, only 43 percent said they would get it, according to a survey from Fierce Pharma. But a December poll by the Kaiser Foundation showed that number increased to 62 percent.

Johnson says that she would get the vaccine when it becomes available to her and believes now that it is being distributed, there is hope.

“I do believe that we have reached a point where we can see some light at the end of the tunnel,” she told the Morning News.

Photo Credit: Getty Image/ Stock Image





Source link

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT