Health News Roundup

The importance of tracking the pandemic by race, and more in this week’s roundup

We hope this finds you safe and healthy. The current pandemic is exposing many inequities in our society and threatens to make existing disparities even worse. Every week we will be highlighting news stories that address these issues and emphasize viewing the current situation through an equity lens. As always, we welcome your feedback. Please email us with any questions, ideas or concerns at

Pushed to the limit: Community health centers ramp up telemedicine while juggling declines in patient visits, furloughs and sick care providers
Lisa Backus, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, April 2
Community health centers that provide medical care to 400,000 low-income patients throughout Connecticut are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic by shifting to telemedicine and reconfiguring the way the staff is offering in-person health services, including triaging patients at the door and conducting home visits when possible. But like many hospitals and businesses throughout the state, they are also facing deep financial losses that have required them to furlough staff. Nevertheless, they continue to provide frontline medical services—from essential wellness checks such as childhood immunizations to COVID-19 screenings.

Coronavirus cases could soar for blacks, Latinos and Native Americans
Deborah Barfield Berry, USA Today, March 30
Long before the pandemic, people of color have experienced racial and ethnic health disparities, including a lack of access to quality care and health insurance. The coronavirus outbreak is a stark reminder of those gaps, further shining a light on the longstanding inequities that exist in society. Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans have many underlying health conditions, including asthma and heart disease, that could make them more vulnerable to complications from the coronavirus, worrying many that these long marginalized communities won’t get equal access to tests and treatment as the outbreak spreads.

Effort aims to provide COVID-19 resources to non-English speakers in U.S.
Shafaq Zia, STAT, April 1 
COVID-19 is impacting lives across the U.S., and health officials are racing to provide communities with important information about the illness. But language divides are likely to put non-English speakers at greater risk. While some health information is being translated into commonly spoken languages including Spanish and Chinese, the U.S. is home to non-English speakers who speak any of more than 350 other languages. A new initiative from medical students and physicians at Harvard Medical School aims to help members of these communities by translating fact-based COVID-19 information.

Lawmakers push for racial breakdown in Maryland’s public coronavirus data, seek to spot disparities early 
Talia Richman, Baltimore Sun, March 30
While many states are releasing daily data showing the number of COVID-19 cases among different age groups, genders, and by county, information on the pandemics impact by race is still missing. Many are recognizing that collecting this information while the pandemic is ongoing is vital so that officials can monitor any disparities as they arise. In Baltimore, where the population is more than 60 percent black, lawmakers are pushing the state to begin publicly tracking cases by race, in addition to age, gender and geographic location. Doctors across the country are making similar calls as some researchers caution that black people in America could be hit especially hard by the public health crisis.

Underlying health disparities could mean coronavirus hits some communities harder
Liz Essley Whyte, Chris Zubak-Skees, NPR, April 1 
As the coronavirus spreads across the country, millions of Americans already struggling with health and finances — especially those in minority communities — could bear the brunt of it. New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that COVID-19 patients with underlying health issues in the U.S. are more likely to need treatment in a hospital — or even in an intensive care unit. They are also at higher risk of dying. Because health and wealth in the U.S. are so often linked, experts warn that the coronavirus could hit low-income populations here much harder.