Health News Roundup

How racism harms health, and more in this week’s roundup

Racism’s corrosive impact on the health of Black Americans 
Bill Whitaker, 60 Minutes, April 18
When the Centers for Disease Control declared that racism is a serious public health threat in America, it acknowledged something that researchers have found for decades: On nearly every measure of health, African Americans are more prone to serious disease and premature death. Poverty and unequal access to high-quality health care play a role in these disparities, but this is not a matter of genetics. Harvard researcher David Williams has spent his career showing what the CDC now recognizes: racism itself can be a killer.

Structural barriers create stark racial divide in Americans’ health
Sam Baker, Axios, April 17
The American health care system delivers far better results for white patients than it does for people of color, and those health disparities are in large part a reflection of broader social and economic inequality. This five-part series lays out the causes and effects of deep inequities in health.

Study: High-profile police brutality cases harm Black Americans’ mental health
Amy Norton, U.S. News & World Report, April 20 
Researchers found that, on average, Black Americans reported an increase in “poor mental health days” during weeks where more than one deadly racial incident was in the news. Those incidents often included hate crimes, but most involved police killings of Black individuals or legal decisions to either not indict or not convict an officer involved. “We need to be aware that these incidents may have effects that ripple across the population,” said lead researcher David Stuart Curtis, an assistant professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Public health experts worry about boom-bust cycle of support
Michelle R. Smith, The Associated Press; Lauren Weber and Hannah Recht, Kaiser Health News, April 19
Congress has poured tens of billions of dollars into state and local public health departments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, paying for masks, contact tracers and campaigns to persuade people to get vaccinated. Public health officials who have juggled bare-bones budgets for years are happy to have the additional money. Yet they worry it will soon dry up as the pandemic recedes, continuing a boom-bust funding cycle that has plagued the U.S. public health system for decades. If budgets are slashed again, they warn, that could leave the nation where it was before COVID: unprepared for a health crisis.

Can federally qualified health centers solve CT’s vaccine equity woes?
Kasturi Pananjady and Dave Altimari, The Connecticut Mirror, April 22
As the coronavirus pandemic grew and vaccines became available, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) were in a critical position, particularly because their patients live in the same neighborhoods and priority ZIP codes that the state is trying to target. Strategically located in areas that were slow to embrace the vaccine, FQHCs have emerged as a linchpin of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to boost vaccine equity and help racial minorities. A lot rides on the shoulders of the FQHCs. But are they reaching their communities effectively? It’s hard to measure. But some that were unsatisfied with their performance changed their approaches, and they say it made a difference.