Health News Roundup

The racial divide in views on school reopening, and more in this week’s roundup

America faces a racial divide over school reopening
Caitlin Owens, Axios, July 23
Americans are divided by race and party on the question of whether schools should open sooner or later, according to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Staying home is often harder on children of color for a multitude of reasons, including that they may not have the same access to virtual learning as wealthier white children. But parents of color are much more likely than white parents to think that schools should reopen later, a reminder that Black and Latino communities are also disproportionately affected by the virus itself, and may have more at stake if reopening schools worsens outbreaks in their communities.

A trial for coronavirus vaccine researchers: Making sure Black and Hispanic communities are included in studies
Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post, July 26
Each fall, the Reverend Rob Newells urges the congregation at Imani Community Church in Oakland, California, to get a flu shot. He builds bridges every day between the country’s most vulnerable, marginalized communities and the medical system, defusing suspicion about HIV prevention treatments and educating people about medical research. When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, he is more uncertain. A vaccine must work for everyone — young and old; Black, brown and white. To prove that it does, many of the 30,000 volunteers for each trial must come from diverse communities. It’s a scientific necessity, but also a moral imperative, as younger people of color die of coronavirus at twice the rate of white people, and Black, Hispanic and Native Americans are hospitalized at four to five times the rate of white people in the same age groups.

How masks helped slow one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the U.S.
Lois Parshley, Vox, July 28
When the Navajo Nation reported its first COVID-19 case on March 17, tribal officials quickly declared a public health emergency and a shelter-in-place order. It faces social and economic disparities that make its population particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. This includes a high rate of preexisting conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19, including diabetes, which affects more than one-fifth of its residents. The Navajo Nation had a fast increase in cases and has multiple generations of families living under one roof, but wearing masks flattened the numbers.

In Texas, 2 big problems collide: Uninsured people and an uncontrolled pandemic
Ashley Lopez, NPR, July 28
Texas’ uninsured rate has been climbing along with its unemployment rate as COVID-19 cases surge in the state. Before the pandemic, Texas already had the highest rate and largest number of people without health insurance in the country. And 20 percent of all uninsured children in the U.S. live in Texas. While some Texans are able to find free coronavirus testing, others have had to pay as much as a few hundred dollars.

Yoga co-op seeks to diversify yoga to heal racialized trauma
Chandra Thomas Whitfield, Kaiser Health News, July 30
Blacks and Latinos consistently top national health disparities lists, with elevated risks for obesity and chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. They also face an elevated risk for depression and other mental health conditions. And a growing body of research asserts that racism and discrimination may be playing a larger factor than previously thought. Beverly Grant teaches yoga with Satya Yoga Cooperative, a Denver-based group operated by people of color that was launched in June 2019, inspired partly by the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. The co-op’s mission is to offer yoga to members of diverse communities to help them deal with trauma and grief before it shows up in their bodies as mental health conditions, pain and chronic disease.