Health News Roundup

Racism and COVID-19: Two public health problems facing America, and more in this week’s roundup

Hiring a diverse army to track COVID-19 amid reopening 
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Anna Almendrala, Kaiser Health News, June 2
Health departments across the U.S. are working at a furious pace to staff their armies of contact tracers to control the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. As they build these forces, many states and localities are trying hard to hire from the racial and ethnic minority communities hit hardest by the virus. They’re anticipating a need for skilled, culturally competent tracers who can speak to those most impacted.

Disparities in Hispanic and black death rates much worse than previously reported 
Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, Ana Radelat, The Connecticut Mirror, May 29
Early Connecticut data wasn’t a true reflection of the impact of COVID-19 on the population because it was not being age-adjusted, leading the state to draw inaccurate conclusions. After reporting for weeks that Connecticut Hispanics are only half as likely to die from COVID-19 as non-Hispanic whites, state officials now say that Hispanics here are substantially more likely to die from the disease. Officials were also reporting that the black population was only 26% more likely than whites to die when in fact their likelihood of death is 2.5 times as high.

New analysis: pandemic unemployment hit minorities, young workers hardest
Keith M. Phaneuf, The Connecticut Mirror, June 1
The coronavirus-induced recession has hit Connecticut’s racial minorities and workers in their 20s and 30s the hardest, according to an analysis last week of more than 343,000 state unemployment claims. Longstanding inequalities in wealth, wages and education, which only were exacerbated over the past decade as Connecticut struggled to recover from The Great Recession, left minority workers particularly vulnerable when the COVID-19 outbreak began.
Related: Coronavirus’ unequal economic toll, Drew Altman, Axios, May 29

Two crises convulse a nation: a pandemic and police violence 
Jack Healy, Dionne Searcey, The New York Times, May 31
They are parallel plagues ravaging America: The coronavirus. And police killings of black men and women. Jimmy Mills’s life has been upended by both. His barbershop in Midtown Minneapolis was one of many small, black-owned businesses that have struggled to survive the pandemic. But Mr. Mills was hopeful because, after two months shut down, he was due to reopen next week. Then early on Friday, the working-class neighborhood where Mr. Mills has cut hair for 12 years, went up in flames as protests over the death of George Floyd and police killings of African-Americans engulfed Minneapolis and cities across the country.
Related: ‘Policing and racism are public health problems.’ How Minneapolis protesters contend with COVID-19, Jasmine Aguilera, Time, May 30

Podcast: It takes a toll 
Dan Gorenstein, Sayeh Nikpay, PhD, MPH, and Anupam Jena, MD, PhD, Tradeoffs, June 2
As the nation responds to the police killing of George Floyd, this week’s Tradeoffs episode explores the public health impacts of police violence and what a public health response could look like. There is also a transcript available at the link for those who prefer to read the episode.