Health News Roundup

Connecticut survey finds widening racial inequities in both health and economic well-being exacerbated by the coronavirus, and more in this week’s roundup

‘State of Wellbeing’ survey quantifies racial inequities in both health and economy
Kasturi Pananjady, The Connecticut Mirror, September 17
Black and Latino residents in Connecticut have not only had disproportionate loss of life due to COVID-19, but have also been hardest hit financially, according to recent data compiled and released by DataHaven. The multi-faceted analysis tells a tale of two pandemics as COVID-19 exacerbates existing health and economic inequities. Among the most striking findings is that Black people are nearly twice as likely to have lost a loved one or friend to the coronavirus as white people. They are also much less likely to feel that their employers are keeping them safe at work. From an economic standpoint, Latinos experienced higher rates of job layoffs and greater housing insecurity.

Black women turn to midwives to avoid COVID and ‘feel cared for’
Rachel Scheier, Kaiser Health News, September 17
As the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed widening health care inequities, more Black women are looking to home birth as a way not only to avoid the coronavirus but also to shun a health system that has contributed to African American women being three to four times more likely to die of childbirth-related causes than white women, regardless of income or education. Researchers argue that the roots of this disparity — one of the widest in women’s health care — lie in long-standing social inequities, from lack of safe housing and healthy food to inferior care provided at the hospitals where Black women tend to give birth.

School closures cut a critical line to dental care for poor students
Maria Cramer, The New York Times, September 14
In March, programs that enabled dental hygienists to visit schools to look for cavities and tooth decay were suspended because of the pandemic. The disproportionate effect of school closures on low-income children, who are less likely to have access to computers, home internet connections and direct instruction from teachers, has been well documented. Less recognized are the effects of school closures on children’s oral health. The closures have suspended regular dental health visits in schools from rural Oregon to New York State.

COVID-19 vaccine makers seek diversity in clinical trials in Connecticut and elsewhere
Ana Radelat, The Connecticut Mirror, September 14
The Reverend Leroy Perry Jr. rolled up his sleeve and received a dose of Pfizer’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine as part of his effort to urge parishioners and others, especially those in the Black community, to participate in the pharmaceutical’s final clinical trial. Perry, the pastor of Branford, Connecticut’s St. Stephens AME Zion church, said he has been preaching the importance that minorities, who are disproportionately hurt by the coronavirus, participate in vaccine trials. He said he tells people willing to listen that the vaccine is safe, having gone through two previous trials, and that medical personnel will screen and monitor each participant. And he is sure to mention that the vaccine does not contain any form of the virus, and instead uses messenger RNA to produce viral proteins and antibodies that Pfizer hopes will protect from the coronavirus.

More Americans lacked health insurance last year — even before pandemic hit, census reports
Susannah Luthi, Politico, September 15
Nearly 30 million Americans went without health coverage at some point in 2019, up by roughly 1 million from the previous year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data. The figures show continued losses in health insurance, slightly eroding gains made in coverage following passage of the Affordable Care Act but don’t yet account for the economic downturn and high rates of unemployment brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The growing uninsured population also points to an ongoing problem with affordability. Last year 45 percent of the nation’s uninsured said they lacked coverage because the costs were too high, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.