Health News Roundup

Progress and concerns as contact tracing grows in CT, and more in this week’s roundup

COVID-19 contact tracers brace for more cases as Connecticut reopens
Jenna Carlesso, The Connecticut Mirror, June 22
Despite limited resources, many local health districts have been hustling to keep up with a steady trickle of new COVID-19 cases, reaching out to people who test positive and their close contacts. State leaders are depending on those contact tracing efforts to curb the spread of the virus as people venture out of their homes in this next stage of reopening. With large-scale venues like zoos, movie theaters and amusement parks reopening, health officials worry they’ll need more help and are recruiting additional volunteers and training more staff to prepare for a possible influx of infections. Complicating an already-difficult process are new problems with the state’s tracing software which only provides text and email prompts in English, hampering outreach to non-English speakers.
Related: For contact tracing to work, public health authorities must regain the trust of Black communities, Katelyn Esmonde, Vox, June 23

Black Americans underrepresented in disease clinical trials 
Eileen Drage O’Reilly, Alison Snyder, Axios, June 18
Black Americans are consistently underrepresented in clinical trials for diseases ranging from diabetes to heart disease to different cancers, despite being disproportionately affected by many of them. Since the current COVID-19 pandemic is taking an unequal toll on underrepresented communities, having diverse trial participants will be key to creating safe and effective drugs and to understanding how socioeconomic and environmental factors influence diagnosis, treatment and outcome.

‘So much worse than I ever thought it would be’: Virus cases skyrocketing among Latinos
Laura Barrón-López, Politico, June 18 
Coronavirus infections have rapidly increased among Latinos in the past two months, outpacing other racial and ethnic minorities. Latinos make up a disproportionate share of the cases in nearly every state. States are also seeing much younger groups being impacted, with Latinos aged 25 to 54 having a coronavirus mortality rate at least five times greater than white people.

‘A very broad power base’: CT faith leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement
Isabella Zou, The Connecticut Mirror, June 23
In the wake of public outcry over the killing of George Floyd, Connecticut’s interdenominational clergy are deliberately and publicly turning a close focus to issues of race and police brutality, arguing that their faiths demand they take action. At the same time, however, the movement struggles to contend with some inherent challenges — a schism between conservative and progressive religious organizations, fewer young people in the pews, and a perception among some social justice advocates that faith-based activism is out of sync with broader, community-based efforts.

Opinion: The Gaps between white and Black America, in charts
Patrick Sharkey, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Yaryna Serkez, The New York Times, June 19
Racial inequality persists in many social and economic domains, including home ownership and income. These forms of inequality are most pronounced when we compare Black and white neighborhoods. Black neighborhoods are often vital centers of Black culture, community and political power. Yet they have not received investments that are customary in white neighborhoods, including well-resourced schools and investments in public services. This article uses six charts to illustrate these growing and persistent disparities.