Health News Roundup

The struggle of Connecticut’s undocumented community during the pandemic, and more in this week’s roundup

COVID-19 and nursing homes: A striking racial divide 
The New York Times, May 21
COVID-19 has been particularly virulent toward African-Americans and Latinos. Nursing homes where those groups make up a significant portion of the residents — no matter their location, no matter their size, no matter their government rating — have been twice as likely to get hit by the coronavirus as those where the population is overwhelmingly white.

‘We are the most affected’: Undocumented community in Connecticut seeks health coverage
Justin Papp, News Times, May 21
Surviving in America as undocumented immigrants has never been easy for Olga Gutierrez and her family. But it’s only become more difficult during the coronavirus pandemic. Both Gutierriez, a native of Honduras and Bridgeport resident, and her husband lost their jobs during the public health crisis. Because of their immigration status, they don’t qualify for unemployment benefits and won’t receive federal stimulus checks. Even when employed, the family didn’t have health insurance. That lack of access became especially apparent when a member of the household recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Treatment was not an option. With no income and no insurance, the cost was prohibitively high.

When hard data are ‘heartbreaking’: Testing blitz in San Francisco shows COVID-19 struck mostly low-wage workers
Usha Lee McFarling, STAT, May 28 
A coalition of hundreds of university, hospital, and community volunteers in San Francisco pulled together one of the largest coronavirus testing studies in the nation. In a four-day blitz at the end of April, they swabbed and drew blood from 4,160 adults and children, including more than half of the residents in a San Francisco census tract in the heart of the Mission District, one of the city’s most densely populated and heavily Latinx neighborhoods. About 2% of people tested positive for the coronavirus. Nearly all of them — 95% — were Latinx. The other 5% were Asian or Pacific Islander. Not a single white person tested positive, though 34% of the tract’s residents are white, according to the U.S. Census; 58% are Hispanic.

A Connecticut mayor and U.S. senator sit for a public COVID-19 test
Mark Pazniokas, The Connecticut Mirror, May 28
Testing for COVID has become easier to find in Connecticut, but testing sites still are less elements of a cohesive system than a loose affiliation of hospitals, community health clinics, laboratories and medical entrepreneurs behind pop-up sites. The message has shifted on testing since the beginning of the pandemic. Initially, even the symptomatic were dissuaded from seeking tests unless they were gravely ill or a nursing home resident. Now, testing needs to become commonplace even for people who are asymptomatic as a way to monitor the virus.

Chicago to spend $56M, hire 600 people to track COVID-19 infections
Heather Cherone, WTTW, May 26
Chicago will use $56 million in state and federal funds to hire 600 people to conduct community-level contact tracing efforts to stamp out the coronavirus. The city is accepting proposals for the contract and the chosen firm will be required to set aside 85% of the funds for at least 30 neighborhood organizations that will conduct the work to ensure the funds are used to address the long-standing inequity that has worsened the pandemic’s toll on Chicago’s South and West sides.