A new study released on Tuesday has found that a disproportionate number of African Americans in counties across the country make up most of the COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths.
The study, conducted by epidemiologists and clinician-researchers at four universities and other public health organizations, attempts to fill in the blanks as states report little data on race and ethnicity. Seventy-eight percent of the preliminary data released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were missing details on race and ethnicity as of April 15, the report said.
Although the study is currently under review by a medical journal, the scientists released their findings Tuesday in hope that more complete data could get the attention of policy decisionmakers in state and federal governments.
The study also found that the disproportionately black counties hit hard by coronavirus cases and deaths showed high levels of pre-existing conditions like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
“We know that being uninsured and crowded living conditions are associated with increases in Covid-19 diagnoses among black Americans, said Gregorio Millett, a lead investigator on the study and vice president of the AIDS research organization amFar.
Ninety-one percent of the 677 majority black counties — those with black populations of 13 percent or greater — are located in the South.
Researchers hope the findings of the study will call for interventions such as emergency enrollment for the Affordable Care Act and long-term Medicaid expansion in southern states. In late March, President Donald Trump rejected proposals for a special ACA enrollment period during the global pandemic. [READ MORE]
Democrats, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are pushing to increase funding for testing and to provide tests to African American and other minority populations hit hardest by the virus.
The scientists conducting in the study added that Black and Brown communities are probably not being tested at the rates of white communities, so the number of cases and deaths may well be underestimated.
In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, Latryna Munerlyn, the widow of security guard, Calvin Munerlyn, called her husband’s death senseless and stupid. The 43-year-old guard was shot in the head after telling a customer at a Flint, Michigan Family Dollar store to wear a face mask. The state has mandated for all retail employees and customers. Three members of the same family have been charged.
On April 17, the US Department of Agriculture announced a $19 billion coronavirus aid package. Many farmers are still waiting on these funds and continue to dump milk and fresh produce as demand from restaurants and schools stopped. While farmers wait possibly weeks to get the help they need, some states have tried to fill in the gap. Florida has created a system to help connect farmers directly with buyers, consumers, and food banks. Iowa and Minnesota have launched programs to connect pork producers with local processors as bigger plants have been forced to shut down.
Makers of plant-based meat alternatives have seen an increase in sales due to a shortage of beef and pork during the pandemic. Beyond Meat reported its first quarter net revenues increased 141 percent from the previous year to more than $97 million, compared to more than $40 million in the first quarter of 2019. Impossible Foods, a private company that produces the Impossible Burger, is adding its product to 777 retail locations in California, Nevada and the Chicago area.
After large public celebrations of Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday, a disappointed Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms reiterated the importance of staying at home to slow the spread of the virus. Admitting that enforcing proper social distance strains the city’s resources and law enforcement, Mayor Bottoms added that the city and country need to keep assessing the racial disparities seen with coronavirus.
Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature is suing Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, intensifying their dispute over coronavirus restrictions as lawmakers try to force an end to orders that have closed many nonessential businesses and required residents to remain in their homes. The legislators say the governor is overstepping her authority; Whitmer says she is protecting citizens from a global pandemic. The lawsuit was filed despite the Michigan Attorney General’s recent affirmation that Whitmer is acting within the scope of the law. Michigan has one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Democratic lawmakers are introducing a new bill in Congress to forgive the student loan debt of health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. The “Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act” would forgive federal and private loans obtained “to receive medical and professional training held by health care workers who have made significant contributions to Covid-19 patient care, medical research, testing and enhancing the capacity of the health care system to respond to this urgent crisis.”
Federal District Judge Greg Kays of Kansas City, Missouri is dismissing a lawsuit over worker safety at a Smithfield pork plant. The lawsuit filed by a worker advocacy group accuses Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s largest pork processor, of failing to sufficiently protect employees from the coronavirus at a plant in Missouri. Due to the president’s executive order to keep meatpacking plants open, the judge noted that it’s up to the executive branch, not the courts, to monitor safety.
This article appears on Black America Web