Health News Roundup

The lack of trustworthy communication to minority populations during the pandemic, and more in this week’s roundup

Federal coronavirus response feeds distrust in black and Latino communities
Laura Barrón-López, Politico, April 21
A black man in his 60s showed up to a Brooklyn urgent care facility because he was having trouble breathing, a common symptom associated with the coronavirus. The doctor told him he needed to go to the hospital but he refused, saying that he’d rather go home where he knew he’d be safe. Generations of distrust in the health care system have accumulated, particularly among African Americans but also Latinos — a long-standing issue based on a history of medical abuses dating to slavery that’s now burst to the fore, with dangerous consequences.

Food, rent, health insurance? Tough choices in pandemic economy
Tiffany Hsu, The New York Times, April 22
As millions of Americans lose jobs, take pay cuts, close businesses and absorb family members into their homes, they are being forced to rethink where their money goes. For some, the question is as simple as whether to spring for a jigsaw puzzle or meal delivery. But for many others, the stakes are far higher: a good credit score sacrificed to pay off certain bills before others, or ramen dinners rationed so that cash for groceries can be repurposed for an emergency fund.

Latinos disproportionately dying, losing jobs because of the coronavirus: ‘Something has to change’
Marco della Cava, USA Today, April 18
In San Francisco, where only 16% of the population is Latino, physician Alicia Fernandez is alarmed by the overwhelming number of Latino patients she is seeing at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Fernandez blames the high cost of housing in the Bay Area, which finds many impoverished Latinos crowded into small apartments. “Sometimes it’s big families, but others it’s just a group of adults trying to make ends meet,” she says. “It makes it so hard to isolate and quarantine folks.” This isn’t an isolated problem in California. Latinos across the U.S. are ill-prepared for their battle against the coronavirus, a crisis that threatens to leave many in this already vulnerable population sick and destitute. Because of a combination of factors – including working in low-paying front-line jobs and a lack of savings and health insurance – Latinos are shouldering a disproportionate burden of the pandemic.

The other COVID risks: how race, income, zip code influence who lives or dies
Liz Szabo, Hannah Recht, Kaiser Health News, April 22
Doctors know that people with underlying health conditions ― such as the 40% of Americans who live with diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other chronic diseases ― are more vulnerable to COVID-19. So are patients without access to intensive care or mechanical ventilators. Yet some public health experts contend that social and economic conditions ― long overlooked by government leaders, policymakers and the public ― are even more powerful indicators of who will survive the pandemic. A toxic mix of racial, financial and geographic disadvantage can prove deadly.

Doctors bring coronavirus testing to underserved communities
Leila Fadel, NPR, April 17
Cars line up in a parking lot outside what is usually a co-working space for women of color in California. But on this day, it’s a makeshift lab for free, rapid antibody testing. These free tests are available through a new task force started by three black women, all doctors called myCovidMD. Their focus is on getting health services and testing to the people who need it: those who don’t have access to health care, the uninsured and under-insured. So far they have set up several pop up testing sites around Los Angeles.