Health News Roundup

Overcoming mistrust to encourage vaccination, and more in this week’s roundup

Michigan, Connecticut leaders join forces to discuss increasing equity in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine
Eliza Fawcett, The Hartford Courant, Jan. 12
In March and April of last year, Black residents of Michigan, who represent 14% of the state’s population, accounted for 41% of COVID-19 deaths in the state. By the fall, that mortality rate fell to below 10%. Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist told Connecticut leaders on a virtual panel Tuesday that his state decided early-on in the COVID-19 crisis to be “unapologetic” about addressing racial disparities head-on. “When we focus on these disparities, we can not only flatten them and make progress, but we can strengthen our overall state response,” he said.

Yale University scientist Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith takes aim at racial gaps in health care
Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times, January 8
Her goals are ambitious, experts noted. “For so long, we’ve been setting our sights on the more achievable goals and attempted to say, ‘We probably can’t have totally equitable care, so let’s at least make sure minority patients get insurance, or at least make sure there’s a health clinic in their community,’” said Dr. Utibe R. Essien, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine who studies racial disparities in cardiovascular disease. “This is a great opportunity to stretch and reach for what’s been imagined for decades, if not centuries.”

Mortality rate for Black babies is cut dramatically when they’re delivered by Black doctors, researchers say
Tonya Russell, The Washington Post, January 9
Black newborns are three times as likely to die as white newborns, a gap that has persisted even as infant mortality has decreased. Yet when Black babies were cared for by Black doctors after birth — primarily pediatricians, neonatologists and family practitioners — their mortality rate was cut in half. Researchers found an association, not a cause and effect, and the researchers said more studies are needed to understand what effect, if any, a doctor’s race might have on infant mortality.

We need you
Dan Gorenstein, Tradeoffs, Jan. 14
Nursing homes have been one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. So why are so many nursing home workers hesitant to get vaccinated, and what can be done to turn those numbers around? Some experts point to mistrust among nursing assistants stemming from longstanding mistreatment, and some nursing homes are attempting to overcome that as they encourage staff to get vaccinated.

New survey finds many people don’t believe systemic racism is a barrier to health
Nada Hassanein, USA Today, Jan. 13
Despite communities of color enduring the hardest hit from COVID-19, a new survey finds many people don’t consider systemic racism a barrier to health. “If people don’t recognize some of the drivers of some of those differences, it just means we have more work to do to try to explain how this kind of inequity pervades this system, what it means for different populations and then how we actually fix it,” said senior policy researcher Anita Chandra, vice president and director of RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.