Briefing for March 29-April 2, 2021 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

Briefing for March 29-April 2, 2021 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

We are struck that one of the few certainties about the coronavirus outbreak is that low-income communities and workers in low-income, service sector occupations will be disproportionately impacted — likely in devastating fashion.

One step in combatting this will be to share information about what is happening and what can be done. That’s why we are offering a daily news service summarizing relevant stories, which you can read below.

If you would like to receive a daily briefing, feel free to email to subscribe.

Briefing for April 2, 2021

Hunger crisis continues, particularly for kids, older adults: From the Associated Press: “America is starting to claw its way out of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but food insecurity persists, especially for children and older adults. Food banks around the U.S. continue giving away far more canned, packaged, and fresh provisions than they did before the virus outbreak tossed millions of people out of work, forcing many to seek something to eat for the first time. For those who are now back at work, many are still struggling, paying back rent or trying to rebuild savings. “We have all been through an unimaginable year,” said Brian Greene, CEO of the Houston Food Bank, the network’s largest. It was distributing as much as 1 million pounds of groceries daily at various points during the pandemic last year. Data from Feeding America, a national network of most food banks in the U.S., shows that its members dispensed far more in the last three months of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. 

False barriers — Factors that should NOT prevent you from getting vaccinated: ProPublica finds that despite the facts that the coronavirus vaccine is supposed to be free to everyone, whether they’re insured or not, and that the Biden administration has directed all vaccination sites to accept undocumented immigrants as a “moral and public health imperative,” those promises are often not fulfilled. At vaccination sites around the country, people have been turned away after being asked for documentation that they shouldn’t need to provide, or asked to pay when they owed nothing. Some tips to be aware of: 

  • You do not need an insurance card or a Social Security number to get a free vaccination.
  • Your immigration status does not matter.
  • A COVID vaccine should never cost you money; it’s the law. 
  • In nearly every state, providers are required to believe what you tell them about pre-existing conditions. Florida is one exception. It limits eligibility to “persons determined to be extremely vulnerable by a physician” and provides a form for doctors to fill out. In Delaware, health providers and hospital systems are the only places where patients with health conditions can get a vaccine.  

Kaiser Family Foundation drills down on county vaccination rates: The Kaiser Family Foundation says that how a U.S. county stacks up in terms of age, race, income, and even political leanings appears to have an influence on whether it has a high or a low vaccination rate. The report further quantifies what has been known since the early days of the pandemic: The coronavirus pandemic continues to hit poor and minority populations harder, not just in the numbers of infections, but in vaccination rates. “Counties with higher shares of people disproportionately affected by COVID-19, including Black and Hispanic people, people with high-risk medical conditions, and those living in poverty, have lower vaccination rates than counties with lower shares of these populations,” the report concludes. Some key findings: 

  • In counties that voted for Joe Biden, the average vaccination rate was 16.3%, compared to 15.5% for counties that voted for Donald Trump. 
  • Seven of the top 10 counties with the highest vaccination rates are in Alaska. Skagway County, with a vaccination rate of almost 52%, is at the top. Almost 22% of Alaska’s population is fully vaccinated.
  • The three counties with the nation’s lowest vaccination rates are in Massachusetts: Nantucket (.3%), Duke (1.1%), and Barnstable (2%). 
  • Counties with a high number of people over 65 have higher vaccination rates (18.2%) than counties with lower numbers of people 65 and older (14.9%).  
  • Counties with high numbers of Black people have a vaccination rate of 13.7%, while counties with low numbers of Black people have a 16.4% rate. When the Hispanic population is considered, vaccination rates are 15% and 15.9%. 
  • In counties with high uninsured rates, the vaccination rate is 15.3%, compared to 17.1% in counties with low uninsured rates. 

Jill Biden lends support to farmworkers seeking vaccination: From the New York Times: “Jill Biden, the first lady, traveled to California on Wednesday to visit a pop-up vaccination site for farmworkers who have lobbied for priority access to shots during the pandemic. In remarks to about 100 farmworkers and local politicians who had gathered to mark the birthday of César Chávez, the labor organizer who formed the country’s first successful farmworkers’ union, Dr. Biden told them that their work — and their health — had been essential to a nation crippled by the coronavirus. ‘We depended on those who kept going to work every single day,’ she told the crowd. ‘Without the farmworkers who kept harvesting our food, or the factory workers who packaged it, or the grocery store clerks who stocked our shelves, hey, we wouldn’t have made it through this year.’” 

Do evictions impact health-related behaviors? The Urban Institute reports that new research shows the current eviction crisis is doing more than displacing renters and creating housing instability — it also has a significant relationship with people’s health. In the past, researchers have established links connecting homeowners’ housing conditions with health outcomes. However, no research has focused on housing and health outcomes among renters. This study examines the relationship between evictions of renter households and health-related behaviors. The authors investigated health-related behaviors — binge drinking, current smoking, lack of leisure time and physical activity, obesity, and sleeping fewer than seven hours — among adults ages 18 and older in 1,267 census tracts in urban Illinois using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 500 Cities Project database. Key findings include: 

  • Both eviction rates and eviction filing rates at the census tract level are significantly correlated with the five health-related behaviors. 
  • Urban Illinois census tracts observed in this study with predominately Black and Hispanic households had higher rates of smoking, lack of leisure time or physical activity, obesity, and sleeping fewer than seven hours than other tracts. 
  • On average, Black households had the highest instances of the health-related behaviors, with the exception of binge drinking. It should be noted that predominately Black, non-Hispanic households had a significantly higher average eviction filing rate at 6.17%, compared with white, non-Hispanic households at 2.08% and Hispanic households at 2.56%. 

Medicaid expansion fails again in Wyoming: Once again, the Wyoming legislature has rejected Medicaid expansion. Despite testimony providing overwhelming support for the measure and some federal aid to encourage more states to adopt the program, the Senate Labor and Health Committee voted three to two against the bill. The Wyoming Department of Health estimated that 25,000 state residents would have qualified for health insurance under the program. One of those was Cheyenne resident Marcie Kindred, who told the committee that this is the only way many state residents can get health care. She said that’s why so many people of different backgrounds support the bill. “There are providers, professionals, and citizens saying this is what we need. If you don’t pass this bill, you owe the people of Wyoming answers,” said Kindred. “This is your job, what are you going to do to help your people? You haven’t offered other solutions. This is it. This is what we got.” The federal government offered states which have not expanded Medicaid a larger federal match.  

Briefing for April 1, 2021

Half of Black and Latina women on the brink of poverty: In the past year, around half of Latina and Black women struggled to pay for basic necessities such as rent and child care, according to research by and SurveyMonkey. Conducted in February, the poll was highlighted last week on Women’s Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into the year it takes women, on average, to earn what men did the previous year. In comparison, Latina and Black women are two times as likely as white men to say they have barely enough to pay for food, housing, or child care in the past year. As well, roughly 20% of Black and Latina women surveyed said the pandemic has had a “devastating” impact on their finances, with only 9% of white men and 12% of white women reporting the same sentiment. The research also found that 47% of Latinas and 50% of Black women surveyed said they have less than $300 in savings to rely on in case of an emergency. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only a third of Latina/Black women reported having less in savings. During the pandemic, 47% of Black women and 41% of Latinas surveyed couldn’t afford to take time off during an emergency though they are much more likely to have hourly jobs.  

Your neighborhood can influence your COVID risk: Markers of the pandemic’s impact — testing rates, positivity ratio (cases among total tests), case rates by overall population and deaths — are clustered in neighborhoods, with low-income and predominantly minority communities experiencing worse outcomes than wealthier and predominantly white neighborhoods. The findings, part of the first research to look at comprehensive neighborhood-level data from March through September 2020 from three large U.S. cities — Chicago, New York and Philadelphia — were published today in Annals of Internal Medicine by researchers from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. The study is the first to look at data on tests, cases, and deaths per zip code from the cities’ health departments and drill down to disparities among communities. The Drexel team compared these numbers to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 Social Vulnerability Index, including socioeconomic status, household data, minority status, language spoken, housing type and transportation. The CDC’s Social Vulnerability index, which assesses the resources that could be used to prevent suffering and financial loss in the event of a pandemic, is calculated using data from the 2014-2018 American Community Survey. “We’ve been documenting the potential existence of these disparities from the early days of the pandemic,” said lead author Usama Bilal, PhD, MD, an assistant professor in Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health. “Now we have comprehensive data on some of the deadly effects from residential segregation, structural and environmental racism, and economic injustice in the ongoing pandemic.” 

Infamous Tuskegee study isn’t the only reason for Black vaccine hesitancy: From CNN: “To get more Black people vaccinated against coronavirus infections, Dr. Kimberly Manning is determined to keep doing what she has had a conviction to do since before the pandemic hit. ‘I’m determined to make sure that people who, historically, have not been seen or who have felt undervalued know that they matter, that they are extremely important,’ said Manning, a professor of medicine and the associate vice chair of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the department of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta. She knows that fewer Black people have been vaccinated against coronavirus than white people. While some people have attributed these lower rates to distrust stemming from the fallout of the unethical Tuskegee Syphilis Study conducted from 1932 to 1972, Manning said it’s more complicated. Modern circumstances, too, are at play. ‘The biggest problem with citing the untreated syphilis study as the reason why people say no is that it creates one reason why a large group of very different people, and individual people, feel the way they do,’ Manning said. ‘Black people are not a monolith.'” 

Federal program to bring vaccines to nursing homes missed about half of staff: From NPR: “Nationwide, most of the elderly and vulnerable in long-term care facilities have taken the coronavirus vaccine, but many of the staff caring for them have refused it. The federal program responsible for bringing vaccines to the vast majority of nursing homes and similar settings inoculated roughly half of long-term-care workers in the nation, and in some states a much slimmer percentage, as of March 15, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided to the Center for Public Integrity. In seven states plus the District of Columbia, the program vaccinated less than a third of staff members. Now the federal program is winding down in the coming days, leaving states and facilities to figure out how to vaccinate the remainder of workers in settings where COVID-19 has already taken a heavy toll. 

‘Never give up’ — A mom’s story from Mississippi: The economic impact of the pandemic has fueled new interest in universal basic income pilot projects, including one in Jackson, MS. In a first-person essay for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, Brenita Burns writes of her participation in the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, a first-of-its-kind program operated by the nonprofit Springboard to Opportunities that provides $1,000 monthly for one year to Black mothers living in extreme poverty in Jackson. The program began disbursements in 2018 to a group of 20 women. It just concluded its second year with 110 mothers, and recently announced it will begin a third cohort of at least 100 mothers in April of 2021.  

Rural community colleges see slump in enrollment:
From the Daily Yonder: “When the economy crashed in 2007, community college enrollments soared, increasing by 33% between 2006 and 2011 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Two-year programs offered people a refuge from the ravages of the labor market, while giving them an opportunity to acquire new skills, update old ones, and retrain for an uncertain economic future. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about similar economic woes, but unlike during the Great Recession, community college enrollments are plummeting, decreasing by 9.5% in the last year, according to a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.  Although college enrollment decreased across the board by an average of 4.5% across all types of institutions, decreases were most pronounced for rural community colleges (-9.9%) and urban community colleges (-10.3%). Data also suggests that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on rural students. Last December, the National College Attainment Network reported that the number of rural students who filled out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), an important indicator of students’ intentions to go to college, dropped by more than 18%, two percentage points lower than urban students.  

Osage tribe is swimming in vaccine — But people won’t take it: Osage News Editor Shannon Shaw Duty writes for the Washington Post: “Pawhuska is the home of the Osage Nation tribal government and the county seat in Osage County, an area conterminous with the Osage reservation in northeastern Oklahoma. I’m one of about 4,000 Osages who live on the reservation, according to data from the Osage Nation membership office; about 43,000 non-Osages, including members of other Native tribes and white people, live here, too. Hesitancy about getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is a potent force in both communities, and it’s troubling. We have to live together safely. I hope we can do it… As the New York Times recently reported, some communities, the Osage and Cherokee nations in Oklahoma among them, are hitting a vaccination wall — even though non-Hispanic Native Americans and Alaska Natives face a greater risk of death from COVID-19 than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Put more bluntly, they die from COVID-19 at nearly 2.5 times the rate of white Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At one well-publicized event in February, the health center staff administered only 120 vaccinations, according to Ron Shaw, an Osage who is WahZhaZhe’s chief executive and chief medical officer. They had the capacity to handle more than 500. Vaccine hesitancy has been a big problem, Shaw told me.” 

Briefing for March 31, 2021

Virtual school has resulted in ‘significant’ learning loss, study finds: After a year of school closings and distance learning amid the pandemic, more than half of public school K-12 teachers said the pandemic resulted in a “significant” learning loss for students, both academically and from a social-emotional standpoint, according to a report by Horace Mann. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggested that virtual learning “might present more risks than in-person instruction related to child and parental mental and emotional health and some health-supporting behaviors.” “The pandemic has taken a toll on our students from an educational perspective, but there are a lot of other impacts happening,” Kelly Ruwe, an education advocate for Horace Mann, as well as a former kindergarten teacher and a mother of three, told CNBC. “We have to take a step back and look at the whole child.” Nearly all — more than 97% — of educators reported seeing some learning loss in their students over the past year when compared with children in previous years, and a majority, or 57%, estimated their students are behind by more than three months in their social-emotional progress, Horace Mann found. 

Retail workers feel vulnerable as mask mandates end: The New York Times describes a sense of unease among retail workers in states such as Texas and Mississippi, where mask mandates have ended “before a majority of people have been vaccinated and while troubling new variants of the coronavirus are appearing. It feels like a return to the early days of the pandemic, when businesses said customers must wear masks but there was no legal requirement and numerous shoppers simply refused. Many workers say that their stores do not enforce the requirement, and that if they do approach customers, they risk verbal or physical altercations. ‘It’s given a great false sense of security, and it’s no different now than it was a year ago,’ said Marilyn Reece, a bakery clerk in a Krogers store in Batesville, MS who is not yet able to receive a vaccine because of allergies. ‘The only difference we have now is people are getting vaccinated, but enough people haven’t gotten vaccinated that they should have lifted the mandate.’ For many people who work in retail, especially grocery stores and big-box chains, the mask repeals are another example of how little protection and appreciation they have received during the pandemic. While they were praised as essential workers, that rarely translated into extra pay on top of their low wages. Grocery employees were not initially given priority for vaccinations in most states, even as health experts cautioned the public to limit time in grocery stores because of the risk posed by new coronavirus variants. (Texas opened availability to everyone 16 and older on Monday.) The issue has gained serious prominence: On Monday, President Biden called on governors and mayors to maintain or reinstate orders to wear masks as the nation grapples with a potential rise in virus cases.” 

Dialysis centers could help with vaccine equity: NPR looks at new efforts to get vaccines to the 550,000 people in the U.S. on dialysis. “Patients on dialysis who get COVID-19 are about 10 to 15 times more likely to die of it than average, in part because they have multiple other conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension that are also risk factors. Delaying dialysis treatment is potentially lethal, so many people risk infection to attend treatment in a clinic — three times a week on average, for hours at a time. About half of dialysis patients in the U.S. are Black or Latino, people whose vulnerability to both kidney disease and COVID-19 are both made worse by lower access to health care. Last week, the Biden administration said it would distribute vaccines directly to dialysis clinics as part of its broader effort to expand vaccination in high-risk communities. Experts say vaccinating at dialysis centers is an elegant solution to many thorny problems. It’s a step ‘that will lead to health equity,’ says Joseph Vassalotti, chief medical officer for the National Kidney Foundation.” 

Pandemic piles more stress on family caregivers: CNBC looks at the pandemic’s impact on the “53 million Americans who are caregivers to a family member, friend, or neighbor. Of those, 61% are women. Even before the pandemic, 20% of caregivers reported high financial strain, 20% left bills unpaid, and 10% were unable to afford basic expenses like food, according to a May 2020 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. ‘No one really prepares for caring for an older adult,’ said Bob Stephen, AARP’s vice president for caregiving and health. ‘When you do, you don’t really think about the financial aspect of it.’ COVID-19 has added to that strain: More than 50% have increased their hours spent on family caregiving, and 30% are experiencing more stress, a survey by AARP and S&P Global found.” 

Judge rules all prisoners in New York must get access to COVID-19 vaccines: New York must immediately begin to offer COVID-19 vaccines to all incarcerated people in the state’s prisons and jails, a judge ruled on Monday, making the state one of few in the nation to provide doses to such a broad population behind bars. The order, the first involving any of the country’s largest correctional systems, comes as the coronavirus continues to roar through facilities in New York. At least 1,100 people living behind prison walls have tested positive for the virus since the start of last month, and five have died. But even as corrections staff and many other groups, including some who live in close-contact settings like group homes and homeless shelters, have gained access to the vaccines in recent weeks, most incarcerated people in New York have remained ineligible to receive doses

California’s working class Latinos are disproportionately dying from COVID-19: From KQED in San Francisco: “The majority of people who have died of COVID-19 were seniors ages 65 or older. But thousands of families in California are also grieving loved ones who died during their prime working years, often while caring for young children. Nowhere is that loss more evident than in the state’s Latino communities. In Santa Clara County, more than half of the people under age 65 who died of the coronavirus were Latino, even though Latinos make up only a quarter of the population in that age group. That’s according to an analysis of county records from Jan. 1, 2020, to March 2, 2021, conducted by KQED and the Documenting COVID-19 project at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation. The disparity is even greater statewide, according to California Department of Public Health figures. As of March 24, nearly 10,000 Latinos under age 65 had died from COVID-19, four times the number of white Californians.” 

Briefing for March 30, 2021

CDC extends eviction moratorium: From Bloomberg: “The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention extended an eviction moratorium until June this year due to coronavirus, while regulators launched probes into whether renters have been improperly kicked out of their residences. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed an order on Monday extending the suspension until June 30, just days before it was set to expire at the end of this month. The move bars landlords from evicting tenants who can’t make rental payments amid the pandemic. President Biden asked the CDC to extend bans on evictions and foreclosures shortly after his inauguration, in a bid to mitigate the dual economic and health crises spurred by COVID-19, which has left more than half a million Americans dead, and millions more unemployed and deep in debt. Following the announcement from the CDC, the acting heads of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission said they had also started investigating ‘deceptive and unfair’ eviction practices, focusing on the actions of multistate landlords, private-equity firms and eviction-management services.” 

Corporate landlords helped drive the eviction crisis: Business Insider reports that landlords have filed 272,612 evictions since March — and that’s just in the 27 cities that the Eviction Lab at Princeton University tracks. Housing advocates fear that the worst is yet to come. Even with the extension of the CDC moratorium, housing experts say that it will only be kicking an eviction tsunami down the line — not to mention ignoring the fundamental problems with housing in America. By January, almost 12 million renters owed an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities — an insurmountable sum in a country where before the pandemic 40% of the population didn’t have $400 on hand in an emergency. “It’s just a wild historical aberration. We’ve never seen anything like it before,” says Peter Hepburn, an assistant professor of Sociology at Rutgers University-Newark and a research fellow at the Eviction Lab. “Catching up on that much back rent is going to be borderline impossible without emergency rental assistance.”   

The precarious state of American child care: Vox outlines the daunting needs of the child care sector, making the case that even the $40 billion for child care needs in the American Rescue Act likely won’t be enough. The country’s many child care deserts are a reminder that the system was broken long before COVID-19 hit, and advocates say fixing it will require federal investment every year, not just today. “We can never go back to a time where our federal government is not making a serious dollar allocation every year to child care,” said Kim Kruckel, executive director of the California-based Child Care Law Center. 

Vaccine disinformation is rampant on some Spanish-speaking social media: Vaccine disinformation has been circulating on social media and messaging apps like WhatsApp. Experts worry it’s targeting people of color most vulnerable to the illness, contributing to vaccine hesitancy and fueling mistrust. “It took me seven weeks to convince my mother to take the vaccine. And she’s in the health care profession,” Maria Teresa Kumar, head of the civic engagement group Voto Latino, told USA Today. “She was embarrassed to tell me why. So, I think deep down she knew something was off, but she didn’t know how to explain it to me.” According to a recent survey by Voto Latino, almost 73% of Latino people surveyed knew someone who had COVID-19, and a third knew someone who died of the illness. Despite that, just shy of half — 47% — said they were reticent about getting the shot. Around a quarter said they would not take it at all. 

Stimulus funds appear to change some minds in Medicaid expansion debate: Last week, Republicans who long opposed the measure and Democrats who long supported it in the Wyoming House joined together to pass Medicaid expansion, potentially signaling the beginning of a change nationwide that could bring health care to those within the coverage gap. Expanding Medicaid is an option available to states since 2014 through the Affordable Care Act, yet Wyoming and 11 other states have refused to take up the federal government’s offer. About 2.2 million people, who earn too much for Medicaid and too little for Obamacare subsidies, fall in that coverage gap nationwide, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The conversation around Medicaid expansion appears to be undergoing a new and dramatic shift in some of the holdout states, however. Central to that change is the Biden administration’s offer, via the American Rescue Act, of increased federal dollars over two years to states that adopt expansion for the first time. It’s expected that funding could cover the states’ Medicaid costs for that period. “It’s the stimulus funds that are really the motivation,” Sen. Chris Rothfuss, the Wyoming Senate minority leader who helped write the bill moving its way through the Legislature, told NBC News. “I think it has really changed some hearts and minds in the Legislature.” 

Pandemic masks child abuse crisis as cases plummet: An Associated Press analysis of state data reveals that the coronavirus pandemic has ripped away several systemic safety nets for millions of Americans. It found that child abuse reports, investigations, substantiated allegations, and interventions have dropped at a staggering rate, increasing risks for the most vulnerable of families in the U.S. In the AP’s analysis, it found more than 400,000 fewer child welfare concerns reported during the pandemic and 200,000 fewer child abuse and neglect investigations and assessments compared with the same time period of 2019. That represents a national total decrease of 18% in both total reports and investigations. The AP requested public records from all 50 state child welfare agencies and analyzed more than a dozen indicators in 36 states, though not every state supplied data for total reports or investigations. The analysis compared the first nine months of the pandemic — March to November 2020 — with the same time period from the two previous years. And there are signs in a number of states that suggest officials are dealing with more urgent and complex cases during the pandemic, according to the analysis, though most child welfare agencies didn’t provide AP thorough data on severity. 

Briefing for March 29, 2021

How one state’s public health defunding led to vaccination chaos: Kaiser Health News looks at the impact of chronic underfunding of county public health facilities in Missouri: “Missourians have driven hours to find vaccines in rural counties — at least those with cars and the time. Tens of thousands of doses are waiting to be distributed, slowly being rolled out in a federal long-term care program. Waitlists are hundreds of thousands of people long. Black residents are getting left behind. Missouri’s rocky vaccine rollout places it among the bottom states nationwide, with 23.7% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose as of Thursday, compared with the national average of 26.3%. If Missouri were on par with the national rate, that would be roughly equivalent to more than 162,000 additional people vaccinated, or almost the entire population of the city of Springfield. Part of the problem, health experts said, is that the state bypassed its 115 local health departments in its initial vaccine rollout plans. Instead, state officials largely outsourced the work to hospitals, consultants and federal programs, reasoning hospitals and mass vaccination sites had the workforce and facilities to deliver high numbers of vaccines. Meanwhile, local health departments and federally qualified health centers, which typically reach the most vulnerable populations not connected to traditional health systems, were each initially left to divvy up about 8% of the state’s vaccine supply. That allocation has since increased to 15%, but it hasn’t been enough to fill the remaining gaps.” 

The myth about women and the COVID vaccine that won’t die: Politico’s Women Rule newsletter explores the infertility myth that appears to be driving vaccine resistance among some women: “One group of Americans is particularly resistant to getting a COVID-19 vaccine: Women. In an early March poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 66% of women said they planned to get a vaccine or had already had at least one dose, compared to 72% of men. 66% is a majority, to be sure, but it falls far below the 75-80% target often cited by health researchers as the threshold for herd immunity. It might come as a surprise that women, who have been earning most college degrees since the 1980s and who are more liberal on most issues than men, would be particularly hesitant to be vaccinated. (Republican men are still the most vaccine-averse group when considering party affiliation and gender, followed by Republican women and then Democratic women.) But anti-vaxxer communities have long been associated with women, particularly parents who fear vaccines might trigger side effects in their children. Studies have shown that women make up the “vast majority” of online anti-vaxxers. When it comes to COVID-19, misinformation that the vaccines cause infertility has been a key driver of vaccine hesitancy among women. This theory gained traction late last year when a group published a petition to a German website, speculating without evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines then in development could affect infertility. One of the authors of the petition was a former vice president of Pfizer, which lent the petition credibility, especially in anti-vaxx circles. Despite medical experts’ widespread debunking of this myth, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from January showed that 12% of those polled who were unvaccinated had heard it.” 

States begin to address COVID threat in inter-generational families: A collaboration between the Center for Public Integrity and NBC News finds states beginning to prioritize the threat of COVID-19 in multi-generational households. “Washington is among only a handful of states that have both recognized COVID-19’s threat to multigenerational households and have prioritized the distribution of vaccines accordingly. A Center for Public Integrity analysis of every county in the U.S. shows that people of color, at greater risk from the virus for a variety of factors, are far more likely to be living in the same home as older relatives. Washington became the first state to put multigenerational households near the top of its COVID-19 vaccine priority list on Jan. 6. Like other states, Washington followed federal guidance and first prioritized “high risk” healthcare workers, first responders and nursing home residents — the latter of whom account for about a third of COVID-19 deaths nationwide. But Washington broke new ground when it next prioritized people 70 or older and people 50 and older in multigenerational homes in which they care for grandchildren, parents or receive care at home… Public Integrity’s analysis found that 18% of U.S. households are multigenerational. We define these households as consisting of at least two generations. That includes parents and adult children as well as families that extend from grandparents to grandchildren. The percentage among people of color is much higher: 30% among Latinos, 25% among Asians and 24% among Black families, compared to 15% for non-Latino white households.” 

Deaths of despair have surged among people of color: New York magazine reports that new data from some of the largest metro areas shows a surge of “deaths of despair” — suicides and fatal drug overdoses — last year among people of color, “leaving deep wounds in families and communities across the country already hit especially hard by the pandemic, economic downturn, and the prominent police killings of people of color such as George Floyd. Though the data is a sample of the nation and preliminary, experts warn the country can’t wait to address severe structural inequalities in mental-health care and a lack of data about what drives suicidal and drug-use behavior among youth of color. The groundbreaking research on deaths of despair by Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton found that they rose markedly among middle-aged white people from 1999–2013 across the nation, in both rural and urban areas. But while Case and Deaton focused primarily on middle-aged whites in their 2015 research, more recentworksuggests that the same forces of rising suicide rates and the opioid epidemic have been affecting Black and Latino Americans as well, albeit more among youth than middle-aged individuals.“ 

DeLauro and Murray were key players in child tax credit increase: From the New York Times: “As President Biden stood in the Rose Garden this month, basking in the glow of his newly enacted $1.9 trillion stimulus package, he singled out two lawmakers who had been toiling away in relative obscurity on its key provisions for years. ‘Rosa, you and I’ve spent so much time on this,’ Mr. Biden said, addressing Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut and a 30-year veteran of the House. ‘You guys — you, Patty and others — are the ones that have been leading this for so long, and it’s finally coming to fruition.’ Patty, as in Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat beginning her 29th year in Congress, and Ms. DeLauro have spent decades working on initiatives to lift children out of poverty, often behind the scenes and out of the spotlight. But as Mr. Biden, 78 and himself a 36-year veteran of Capitol Hill, presses forward with an ambitious liberal agenda — including the sprawling pandemic aid law that is projected to cut child poverty by as much as half — Ms. DeLauro and Ms. Murray have deployed their legislative muscle and deep experience to deliver on his bold promises.” 

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