Health News Roundup

Food insecurity and COVID-19, and more in this week’s roundup

Food insecurity in the U.S. by the numbers
Christianna Silva, NPR, September 27
With COVID-19 continuing to spread, and millions of Americans still out of work, one of the nation’s most urgent problems has only grown worse: hunger. In communities across the country, the lines at food pantries are stretching longer and longer, and there’s no clear end in sight. Before the pandemic, the number of families experiencing food insecurity — defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life — had been steadily falling. But now, as economic instability and a health crisis takes over, new estimates point to some of the worst rates of food insecurity in the U.S. in years, with Black and Hispanic Americans being disproportionately affected.
Related: A crisis within a crisis: Food insecurity and COVID-19, Michel Martin, NPR, September 27

In Los Angeles, Latinos hit hard by pandemic’s economic storm
Jackie Fortiér, Kaiser Health News, September 25
Working as a fast-food cashier in Los Angeles, Juan Quezada spends a lot of his time these days telling customers how to wear a mask. Quezada didn’t expect to be enforcing mask-wearing. Six months ago, he was a restaurant manager before L.A. shut down most restaurants because of the pandemic. The only work he could find pays a lot less and is part time. He is one of hundreds of people who responded to a recent poll that found that 71% of Latino households in Los Angeles County have experienced serious financial problems during the pandemic, compared overall with 52% of Black households there and 37% of whites.

How to help parents who are struggling to provide for their kids
Christina Caron, The New York Times, September 17
More than half a year into the coronavirus pandemic, millions of U.S. families are struggling to pay for basic necessities. Nearly one in eight households doesn’t have enough to eat. Parents in search of their children’s next meal have queued up in lines outside of food banks. Layoffs are claiming hundreds of thousands of jobs each week and more than 50 million people with children under 18 at home say their household has lost income since March. Some families cannot afford diapers, wipes and formula, while others are being threatened with eviction.

Diabetes, disparities, and COVID-19: Three intertwined ‘epidemics’ raise risk
Elizabeth Cooney, STAT, October 1
People with diabetes who are infected with COVID-19 have higher odds of having worse outcomes. But it’s not yet clear why that is — and finding an answer may be complicated. People with diabetes can have a mix of biological and socioeconomic factors that could be making them more vulnerable to COVID-19. Some, for example, might live in multigenerational households, households with essential workers or in neighborhoods where it’s harder to be physically active while staying 6 feet away from others.

America’s racial reckoning is putting a spotlight on Black mental health
Doha Madani, NBC News, September 26
The mental health of Black Americans is under strain as 2020 unravels, bringing to light racial disparities across the country. Issues with access to mental health care are especially dire for communities of color due to a number of factors, including language barriers, stigma and underfunded public health programs. This disparity in mental health care can be particularly dangerous for Black communities, where generations of racial trauma have contributed to more general physical disorders.
Related: The relentlessness of Black griefMarissa Evans, The Atlantic, September 27