Health News Roundup

The essential workers with no safety net, and more in this week’s roundup

A complicating factor in combating COVID hot spots: Heat
Victoria Colliver and Nolan D. McCaskill, Politico, March 3 
If you overlaid a map of the country’s coronavirus hot spots with its actual hot spots — that is, neighborhoods with the highest levels of extreme heat — the maps would be virtually the same. These hot spots, better known as “heat islands,” are hotter than other neighborhoods because they often have large expanses of concrete, less greenery, higher density housing, lower average incomes and poorer health status than more affluent neighborhoods. Those factors have also contributed to skyrocketing COVID-19 caseloads in those neighborhoods. Traditionally, cities have set up cooling centers during heat waves, but many residents have avoided them. One idea gaining traction is to reinvent the cooling center as a “resilience hub,” outfitted to help a community weather more than just a heat wave.

Data show mass vaccination sites are reaching the general population — not the vulnerable areas they are supposed to target
Dave Altimari, The Connecticut Mirror, March 8
When Yale New Haven Hospital officials opened their first mass vaccination clinic at the Floyd Little Athletic Center, they thought they had found the perfect site – near the center of the city and accessible by multiple bus lines for the residents they hoped would come there. But it didn’t take long for hospital officials to realize that while they were vaccinating lots of people at Floyd Little, few of them were from New Haven. Many mass vaccination clinics — established in cities to encourage minority residents to participate — instead were drawing more white suburban residents than anticipated. Hospitals are now ramping up pop-up clinics and focusing on working with church leaders in the minority communities.
Related: ‘We are only as safe as the least safe’: Danbury works to get COVID vaccine to vulnerable groups, Julia Perkins, The News Times, March 8

Without a pandemic safety net, immigrants living in U.S. illegally fall through the cracks
LJ Dawson, Kaiser Health News, March 9
The nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission are particularly vulnerable to the economic fallout wrought by the pandemic and have no direct access to the billions of dollars in federal pandemic relief over the past year. An estimated 4 in 5 of them work essential jobs that put them at high risk to catch the COVID virus. They are also more likely to suffer the economic consequences, even with protections in place — such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, extended through March — because they fear that reaching out for help or reporting landlords could lead to deportation or detention.

Opinion: Black people need better vaccine access, not better vaccine attitudes 
Rhea Boyd, The New York Times, March 5
Despite having one of the highest risks of dying from COVID-19, Black Americans remain one of the least vaccinated groups. Many are quick to blame “vaccine hesitancy.” But this hyper-focus on hesitancy implicitly blames Black communities and obscures opportunities to address the primary barrier to COVID-19 vaccination: access. A closer look at the data reveals that when Black people are given the opportunity, they do get vaccinated. After the federally funded Vaccines for Children program eliminated cost as a barrier to vaccine access in the 1990s, racial disparities in vaccination rates narrowed significantly. Another study looking at flu vaccination in Detroit showed that among Medicare Part B recipients, Black adults 65 years and older are just as likely to accept the flu vaccine as white adults, if their health care provider offers it to them.