LOGO
  • ,,,

    Congressional Black Caucus, civil rights organizations challenge CDC to provide reports on rate of infections

    With evidence growing that shows African Americans disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus, just nine states and the District of Columbia have released a racial breakdown of those diagnosed with the disease.

    Concerned health experts, members of the U.S. Congress, and civil rights organizations have ramped up their call for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide a detailed report.

    “We know that there’s a disproportionate rate of infections and death nationwide,” Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) stated in a conference call with the Black Press of America represented by the National Newspaper Publishers Association on Tuesday, April 7.

    “It’s happening in all of our [African American] communities nationwide. We feel that it’s an emergency that needs to be addressed right away, and, importantly, we need data, and the CDC is not compiling data,” Bass added.

    Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, agreed that statistics along racial lines are vital. “The data already released shows troubling trends for African Americans that must be addressed to ensure public health,” Kelly said.

    African Americans make up about 18 percent of the population in Michigan but account for approximately 40 percent of coronavirus-related deaths, according to Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-Michigan).

    “I am speaking as just one part of the major piece of concern, and that’s the alarming way in how this pandemic is having an impact on our Black community,” Lawrence said.

    “We are the number one target for this disease. We have pre-existing conditions, and yet we’re told to go home when we visit the emergency room. We know that there must be some form of regulation in place for testing and getting testing sites and equipment into the community,” Lawrence said.

    The Louisiana Department of Health revealed that 70 percent of coronavirus deaths in the state are African American, despite Black people making up just 32 percent of the population. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, African Americans reportedly accounted for nearly half of coronavirus cases and more than 80 percent of deaths related to the disease.

    “I have seen in my waiting room mostly Black and Brown patients who are essential workers and service workers who can’t afford to stay home,” Uche Blackstone, the CEO of Advancing Health Equity, told The Hill.

    “These are the ones that I see presenting to the clinic with COVID-19 symptoms,” Blackstone said.

    Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) led a group from congress recently in demanding that the federal government release data about racial disparities in America’s response to the pandemic. Pressley said she and her colleagues made clear in the letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that the government is failing to collect and publicly report on the racial and ethnic demographic information for coronavirus tests and patients.

    “Without demographic data, policymakers and researchers will have no way to identify and address ongoing disparities and health inequities that risk accelerating the impact of the novel coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes,” the letter stated.

    “Although COVID-19 does not discriminate along racial or ethnic lines, existing racial disparities and inequities in health outcomes and health care access may mean that the nation’s response to preventing and mitigating its harms will not be felt equally in every community.”

    Dr. Ebony Hilton and Dr. Taison Bell, of the Virginia Medical School, have publicly demanded the release of racial data surrounding the virus.

    “Release the data,” said Hilton, who continuously posts that message on social media sites.

    “We see in states that aren’t reporting on racial demographics that there’s been a surge in patients dying from respiratory distress and respiratory failure,” Bell said.

    The NNPA and its Coronavirus Task Force was the first media-related entity in the U.S. to declare a “State of Emergency for Black America” as the fatalities among Black Americans continue to rise across the nation. Using social media to increase public awareness about COVID-19, the NNPA is encouraging the use of the following hashtags: #SaveBlackLives and #NNPACoronavirusTaskForce.

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

    Read more »
  • ,,

    State of emergency declared for Black America as public health experts reveal coronavirus is airborne

    WASHINGTON DC (NNPA)–While many medical doctors maintain that the novel coronavirus is transmitted through droplets from coughs or sneezes, more and more medical experts and officials who work primarily with infectious respiratory illnesses and aerosols are convinced that the disease is airborne.

    Today, as a result of recent medical research and data, The National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. has issued a solemn national public warning and alert to nearly 50 million African Americans. “Black America is now in a state of emergency as a result of the disproportionately deadly impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our families and communities across the United States,” Chavis stated. “The coronavirus is now airborne. That means that the coronavirus can be in the air that we breathe.”

    “Black Americans should stay at home and only leave home for critical life-essential reasons,” Chavis emphasized. “In fact, all Americans should stay at home to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. But I must emphasize that because before the spread of the coronavirus, Black Americans were already disproportionately burdened with multiple preexisting health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, our communities are more vulnerable to the impact of the coronavirus, including higher rates of fatalities.”

    A Pro Publica report revealed that African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81 percent of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is only 26 percent Black.

    Milwaukee is one of the few places in the United States that is tracking the racial breakdown of people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus, offering a glimpse at the disproportionate destruction it is inflicting on Black communities nationwide.

    In Michigan, where the state’s population is 14 percent Black, African Americans made up 35 percent of cases and 40 percent of deaths as of Friday, April 3.

    Detroit, where a majority of residents are Black, has emerged as a hot spot with a high death toll. As has New Orleans, according to Pro Publica.

    Louisiana has not published case breakdowns by race, but 40 percent of the state’s deaths have happened in Orleans Parish, where the majority of residents are Black.

    Illinois and North Carolina are two of the few areas publishing statistics on COVID-19 cases by race, and their data shows a disproportionate number of African Americans were infected, according to the report.

    “We know in the US that there are great discrepancies in not only the diagnosis but the treatment that African Americans and other minorities are afforded,” stated Dr. Ebony Hilton, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia Health Systems.

    “So, I want to make sure that in this pandemic, that Black and brown people are treated in the same way and that these tests are made available in the same pattern as for white people,” Dr. Hilton said.

    Medical experts have also sounded the alarm that the virus could well be transmitted through the air.

    “Currently available research supports the possibility that (COVID-19) could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation,” Harvey Fineberg, who heads a standing committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, wrote in an April 1, 2020 letter to Kelvin Droegemeier, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

    “One must be cautious in imputing the findings with one respiratory virus to another respiratory virus, as each virus may have its own effective infectious inoculum and distinct aerosolization characteristics,” Fineberg wrote.

    “Studies that rely on PCR to detect the presence of viral RNA may not represent virus in sufficient amounts to produce infection. Nevertheless, the presence of viral RNA in air droplets and aerosols indicates the possibility of viral transmission via these routes.”

    Fineberg penned the letter in response to a request from the White House OSTP. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a standing committee of experts to help inform OSTP on critical science and policy issues related to emerging infectious diseases and other public health threats.

    The standing committee includes members with expertise in emerging infectious diseases, public health, public health preparedness and response, biological sciences, clinical care and crisis standards of care, risk communication, and regulatory issues.

    “The results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing,” Fineberg wrote.

    He noted an airflow modeling study that followed a coronavirus outbreak in Hong Kong in the early 2000s supports the potential for transmission via bioaerosols.

    In that study, the significantly increased risk of infection to residents on higher floors of a building that was home to an infected individual indicated to the researchers a pattern of disease consistent with a rising plume of contaminated warm air.

    “In the mind of scientists working on this, there’s absolutely no doubt that the virus spreads in the air. This is a no-brainer.” Lidia Morawska, at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, told the medical website, nature.com.

    A March 2020 Cambridge Research study of those with influenza revealed that 39 percent of individuals exhaled infectious aerosols, which experts noted that, as long as an airspace is shared with someone else, breathing in the air they exhale, it’s possible for airborne transmission of the coronavirus.

    “It’s airborne,” Dr. Angela Guerrera, an emergency medicine specialist in New Jersey, told NNPA Newswire.

    “If someone has the disease, they don’t have to cough and sneeze or spit. If you then go into their space, you can probably get it,”  Guerrera said.

    Some experts said they are convinced that a primary reason that governments and organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have shied away from stating that the virus is in the air is to prevent panic and because it could take years and cost hundreds of millions of lives before indisputable evidence can be presented.

    “We shouldn’t let perfect be the enemy of convincing,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota.

    A spokeswoman for the WHO told NNPA Newswire that the organization is focused solely on treatment and trials.

    “As far as treatment for COVID-19 is concerned, so far, we have no evidence that any particular drug is effective, but researchers around the world are working hard on this. More than 20 vaccines are in development globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials,” said WHO spokeswoman Ashley Baldwin.

    By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
    @StacyBrownMedia

    Read more »
  • ,

    Census 2020: For all to count, all must be counted

    While every Census faces challenges and even controversies, the count remains important because it’s the federal government’s very first responsibility to the U.S. Constitution, the cornerstone of the nation’s representative democracy and America’s largest peacetime activity, said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant to many census stakeholders and former staff director for the U.S. House Subcommittee on Census and Population.

    However, Lowenthal believes the 2020 Census is heading into “a perfect storm.”

    “I think of unprecedented factors that could thwart a successful enumeration – one that counts all communities equally well,” said Lowenthal, who consults on The Census Project, a collaboration of business and industry associations; civil rights advocates; state and local governments; social service agencies; researchers and scientific societies; planners; foundations; and nonprofits focused on housing, child and family welfare, education, transportation, and other vital services.

    “The risks include cyber-threats foreign and domestic, IT failures, weather events that have become more extreme, disinformation campaigns, and the unknown consequences of adding a new, untested citizenship question,” she said.

    The official kick-off to the 2020 Census is Monday, April 1 in Washington where the U.S. Census Bureau will host a live operational press briefing to mark the one-year out milestone from the 2020 Census.

    Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham and others in leadership plan to brief the public on the status of operations and provide updates on the success of the integrated partnership and communication campaign.

    Lowenthal said the unknown consequences of adding a new, untested citizenship question are among the growing challenges facing the 2020 Census.

    She said other challenges including consistent underfunding and President Trump’s budget request for next year, which is well below the amount needed; distrust of government at many levels; and fear among immigrants that their census responses will be used to harm them and their families.

    “An inclusive, accurate census is especially important for Black Americans and other people of color,” Lowenthal said.

    “The census determines the distribution of political power, from Congress, to state legislatures, to city councils and school boards, and guides the allocation of almost $9 trillion over the decade in federal assistance to states and communities for hospitals, public transit, school facilities, veterans services, Medicaid, school lunches, and many other vital services,” she said.

    Unfortunately, advocates say the census is not an equal opportunity enumeration.

    Scientific yardsticks since 1940 reveal that the census misses Black Americans at disproportionately high rates, especially Black men ages 18 to 49 and Black children under age five.

    “At the same time, the census over-counted non-Hispanic Whites in 2000 and 2010. And because the people who are more likely to be missed do not live in the same neighborhoods as those more likely to be double-counted, some communities get more than their fair share of political representation and resources, while others get less than they deserve and need,” Lowenthal said, adding that we then must live with those results for the next ten years.

    The Census is a civil rights issue with huge implications for everyone, particularly people of color, added Beth Lynk, the director of the Census Counts Campaign at The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

    “Census data are used to draw congressional district lines and help determine the amount of federal funding communities receive for programs like Head Start and SNAP,” Lynk said.

    “Communities that are missing from the census lose out on what they need to stay safe and healthy. Unfortunately, Black people and Latinos are considered to be harder to count, and accurately counting these populations takes a focused effort,” she said.

    Lynk said, “That’s why it’s critical that local governments and community organizations educate their own constituents and members and encourage them to be counted.”

    Census data are inherently personal; the data record and codify individual stories, and help to paint a mosaic of rich racial, ethnic, cultural, and geographic identities, said Jason Jurjevich, Assistant Director of the Population Research Center, a research institute in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University in Oregon.

    “Telling the story of diverse communities, including individuals of color, requires a fair and accurate count,” Jurjevich said.

    “As with any census, an all too common obstacle is that some individuals are excluded, resulting in an undercount. In the 2010 Census, considered one of the most accurate censuses in recent American history, 1.5 percent of Hispanics and 2.1 percent of African-Americans were undercounted,” he said.

    Jurjevich added that among African-American men, ages 30 to 49, the undercount was much higher, at 10.1 percent.

    The decennial census is the one chance, every ten years, to stand up and be counted, Jurjevich said.

    He said Census 2020 will offer the first-ever online response option, which could improve census response rates and, at the same time, numerous challenges and barriers will likely make it more difficult to count Americans in the 2020 Census.

    “This means that communities will need to organize and address on-the-ground challenges like the proposed citizenship question, increasing public distrust in government, growing fears among immigrants about the current sociopolitical climate, the first-ever online response option and concerns around the digital divide and security of personal data, and inconsistent and insufficient federal funding,” Jurjevich said.

    Each community should first consider developing a Complete Count Committee – or CCC, he said.

    “A CCC is a volunteer committee established by tribal, state, and local governments and community leaders to increase awareness of Census 2020 and increase census participation,” Jurjevich said.

    The first step for CCCs is to develop a Complete Count Plan.

    The plan should identify local barriers to a fair and accurate count, identifies potential sources of funding, build on the strength of trusted community voices, and develop culturally resonant messaging, Jurjevich said.

    “For all to count, all must be counted,” he said.

    By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA

    Read more »
Back to Top
Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com