Briefing for May 17-21, 2021 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

Briefing for May 17-21, 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 May 21, 2021

Stark racial disparities persist in vaccinations, state-level CDC data shows: From Kaiser Health News: “Black Americans’ COVID-19 vaccination rates are still lagging months into the nation’s campaign, while Hispanics are closing the gap and Native Americans show the highest rates overall, according to federal data obtained by KHN. The data, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to a public records request, gives a sweeping national look at the race and ethnicity of vaccinated people on a state-by-state basis. Yet nearly half of those vaccination records are missing race or ethnicity information. KHN’s analysis shows that only 22% of Black Americans have gotten a shot, and Black rates still trail those of whites in almost every state. Targeted efforts have raised vaccination rates among other minority groups. Hispanics in eight states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico are now vaccinated at higher rates than non-Hispanic whites. Yet 29% of Hispanics are vaccinated nationally, compared with 33% of whites. While 45% of Native Americans have received at least one dose, stark differences exist depending on where they live. And Asian vaccination rates are high in most states, with 41% getting a shot.” 

Confusing rules, loopholes, and legal issues — College vaccination plans are a mess: NBC News reports: “When the coronavirus began to spread around the country last year, most colleges and universities shut their doors. And when they began to reopen in the fall, they did so in piecemeal and convoluted ways. In some cases, students could live in dorms but had to take classes online. Dining halls were reservation-only. Singing was banned. While some schools avoided major outbreaks, others became hot spots. The introduction of three COVID-19 vaccines early this year to college populations seemed to present an exit from these patchwork reopenings, which robbed students of a traditional college experience. But an NBC News analysis of rules across the U.S. found that vaccination requirements for students have proven to be just as complicated as the frenetic fall 2020 semester, if not more so. In Texas, public universities can’t require a vaccination, but private ones can. In Massachusetts, where colleges and universities can mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, 43 of more than 100 had agreed to do so by mid-May. In New York, public universities cannot allow for religious exemptions, while a majority of the state’s private universities can. That patchwork approach is reflected across the country. An NBC News analysis of nearly 400 colleges and universities that are requiring the COVID-19 vaccination found that the vast majority have unclear directives, loopholes, or legal complications that are leaving professors frustrated, students unmotivated, and a potential public health crisis come fall. To add to the confusion, among all states and jurisdictions, 19 have statewide regulations for public colleges: Seven require vaccinations for students and 12 do not.” 

As GOP-run states slash jobless aid, Biden administration finds it has few options: From the Washington Post: “The Biden administration has scrambled to devise a way to keep paying heightened unemployment benefits to an estimated 3.6 million Americans who stand to lose them soon in Republican-led states, but Labor Department officials have come to believe that the law does not allow them to do so. With a federal intervention now unlikely, jobless Americans in at least 22 states including Arizona, Ohio, and Texas are set to see their payments fall by $300 each week — or be wiped out entirely — as GOP governors try to force people back to work in response to a potential national labor shortage. The trouble centers on a series of federal coronavirus stimulus programs, some of which date back to the earliest days of the pandemic. Congress over the past year has added $300 to every out-of-work American’s typical weekly unemployment check, extended the number of weeks they are eligible for aid, and offered benefits to those who are self-employed, including gig-economy laborers, who otherwise aren’t able to collect jobless support.” 

A community’s response  Pandemic reflections from the White Mountain Apache Tribe: A photo essay from Cronkite News/Arizona PBS looks at how the White Mountain Apache Tribe in eastern Arizona was able to slow the spread of COVID in the community by implementing a daily routine of “contact tracing, surveillance of high-risk individuals, and vaccinations.” Since starting the regimen which includes going door-to-door to community members’ houses to monitor potential exposures, symptoms, and to offer vaccines the tribe has curbed the spread and hasn’t reported any more deaths in months. This story comes from a special COVID collection curated by the Solutions Journalism Network. 

Black entrepreneurs hope pandemic gardening boom will grow healthier eating: Kaiser Health News looks at an expanding list of Black gardening enthusiasts-turned-entrepreneurs across the country who “run seed businesses that have benefited from the pandemic-inspired global gardening boom that seed providers, still overwhelmed with orders, hope won’t subside anytime soon. Gods Garden GirlCoco and Seed, and Urban Farms Garden Shop are all Black-owned companies that share in the mission of drawing more diverse people into gardening and also illuminating it as an active, pandemic-safe pastime that facilitates healthy eating. It also provides an escape from stress, including racial stress, which has simmered and exploded at times after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis. Research has found that exposure to plants and green spaces while gardening is beneficial to mental and physical health. In fact, a 2018 article in Clinical Medicine noted that merely viewing plants can reduce stress and diminish feelings of fear, anger, or sadness by reducing blood pressure and pulse rate and also relieving muscle tension. The same report urged health professionals to encourage their patients to spend time in green spaces and to work in gardens.” 

Briefing for May 20, 2021

42% of LGBTQ youth report suicidal thoughts during pandemic: From The 19th: “Over the past year, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered suicide and 94% said recent politics negatively impacted their mental health, according to a new report from the Trevor Project. The third annual report from the Trevor Project, which runs a suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth, tracks the mental health for queer youth ages 13 to 24. The numbers are what Amit Paley, the organization’s executive editor, expected. Still, they shocked him. ‘The impact that COVID-19 had on the mental health of LGBTQ young people was profound,’ Paley said. ‘Almost every LGBTQ young person in our sample said that their mental health was negatively impacted by politics.’ The data draws from online surveys of nearly 35,000 youth conducted between October and December 2020.The past year has presented unprecedented challenges for LGBTQ+ people, queer youth in particular, advocates say. Paley, who staffs the Trevor Project hotline, says many kids have spent the pandemic cooped up in homes where their parents don’t support them, cut off from friends and activities that allow them to be themselves. According to the report, 60% of trans and nonbinary youth said that the pandemic impacted their ability to express their gender identity. Queer kids have also ingested the news that more than 30 states are weighing anti-LGBTQ+ bills, sending the message that they are unwelcome in their schools and communities, Paley added.” 
Biden goes big on Title I funding for low-income students: President Biden is proposing an unprecedented increase in funding for programs that aim to boost schools with low-income students, the Hill reports, betting that it could help scale back some of the disparities in educational outcomes. “In his budget proposal for 2022, Biden asked Congress to more than double the amount spent on Title I grants for such schools, from $16.5 billion to $36.5 billion. The gap between funding for poor and rich districts is substantial, and widens along racial lines. A 2018 report from The Education Trust, an advocacy group, found that districts with the largest proportions of racial minorities received $1,800, or 13%, less in state and local funding per student than those with the fewest students of color. While Biden’s move to dramatically increase Title I funding won praise from education activists, some critics say the program is in need of reform, and more needs to be done to level out funding inequities. ‘No student in any state should have to accept a lower quality education simply because of where they live or the color of their skin,’ Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chair of both the House Appropriations Committee and the subcommittee that covers education funding said last week.” 
The pandemic’s next effect  A giant wave of disabling grief: From Scientific American: “The deaths of more than 586,000 people in the U.S. from COVID since the spring of 2020 have left many millions grieving. A sizable number of these bereaved individuals will find their anguish lasts an unusually long time, does not diminish and renders their life almost unbearable, mental health specialists say. People who sufferer this intense bereavement are frequently unable to keep their job, leave their home, or care for other loved ones. Even those who are able to navigate some of everyday life describe their agonized existence as just waiting to die. Their continued high level of stress can damage the body, increasing inflammation and risks for associated illnesses such as heart disease. This condition, a psychiatric state called prolonged grief disorder, typically lasts for many months after a loss — one year in the U.S. or six months per international criteria. The condition is much worse than normal grieving, says Katherine Shear, a psychiatrist at the Columbia University School of Social Work and founder of the Center for Complicated Grief. And the isolation surrounding so many pandemic deaths likely makes people more vulnerable to it. ‘There are so many aspects of the pandemic that are going to be risk factors for people having a hard time adapting to these losses,’ Shear says.” 
America’s unemployment system failed when it was needed most  Can it be fixed? Politico writes: “The pandemic and its resulting financial turmoil have revealed a hard truth about the nation’s unemployment apparatus: It’s broken and failed to function when needed most. Politicians and labor experts warn the country isn’t heeding the lessons of the past year and worry if Washington and all 50 states don’t act, the next Big One could be just as bad. The solution isn’t simple and will require a coordinated, multibillion-dollar undertaking, with governors, Congress, and the President working together on the biggest overhaul since the social safety net was created more than 85 years ago.” 
Anti-poverty policies for children must level the playing field across racial and economic lines: In a report for the Brookings Institution, Duke University professor Lisa A. Gennetian and New York University professor Hirokazu Yoshikawa argue that the Biden administration’s anti-poverty proposals, while welcome, must do more to address structural racism. Key points: 

  • “Beyond issues of police brutality and the need for policy reform, racism in the criminal justice system impacts youth and young adults in two ways that poverty reduction strategies alone will not solve.” 
  • “Failed historical policies of public housing and concentrated poverty have given way to vouchers and mixed-income housing but limited success toward neighborhood and educational racial integration.” 
  • “Segregation in public schools has followed lockstep with housing and neighborhood segregation and has interrupted educational achievement and completion all the way through postsecondary education.” 
  • “Uneven access to preventive, curative, and diagnostic health care has contributed to unequitable medical treatment of people of color, despite the high coverage rates of insurance via Medicaid among income-eligible children of all groups.” 

Diaper banks see ‘exponential’ increase in demand during pandemic: The struggle to afford and access diapers has long been an issue for American families, but never more so than during the COVID-19 pandemic. National Diaper Bank Network CEO and founder Joanne Goldblum says some of her member diaper banks saw increases in demand of up to 600%. Goldblum spoke with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity recently about the pandemic experience for diaper banks and the current state of legislation on the issue, as well as her recent book, Broke in America, which she wrote with co-author Colleen Shaddox.  

Briefing for May 19, 2021

Safety net hospitals that serve low-income communities face mounting obstacles: A new Frontline documentary, The Healthcare Divide, “sheds light on a growing inequity in American healthcare: Many “safety-net” hospitals, whose primary mission is to serve the same low-income, working-class communities that have often been hit hard by the pandemic, are struggling to survive and have been for years — while profits at some other hospitals are booming. “I think we’re on the brink of a precipice,” Dr. Bruce Siegel, who represents more than 300 safety-net hospitals around the country, as president and CEO of the trade group America’s Essential Hospitals, says in the above excerpt from The Healthcare Divide. “Even before the pandemic, many of these [safety-net] hospitals were losing money, and the pandemic is only going to make that worse.” It’s a situation with serious implications for the health of the people these hospitals often serve, who are among the more than 70 million Americans reliant on Medicaid and the roughly 30 million who have no insurance at all.”

The incomplete promise of Medicaid expansion: Vox looks at the efforts in the Missouri legislature to block Medicaid expansion, despite approval by voters last November: “In November, Missourians voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, granting access to health insurance to roughly 230,000 people living in poverty. Now the state’s Republican legislators are defying the will of their voters by refusing to implement the expansion. In late April, the Missouri Senate blocked funding for Medicaid expansion. Last week, Gov. Mike Parsons cited the lack of funding to justify withdrawing the expansion plan entirely. Lawsuits will likely be filed over Parsons’s decision. But this is not the first time Republican leaders in a conservative state have fought to block their voters’ wishes on Medicaid expansion. Utah legislators had sought to scale back the expansion plan approved by their voters in 2018, though they eventually acquiesced once the Trump administration said the legislature’s alternate proposal was not permissible. The pattern demonstrates that, nearly a decade after the Supreme Court ruled that states could choose whether to expand their Medicaid programs, the fight over whether to do so is far from over. So far, 38 states and Washington, DC, have expanded Medicaid, covering nearly 15 million people. In the dozen states that have not, 4 million people are uninsured who would receive Medicaid coverage if their state expanded eligibility under the ACA. More than 95 percent live in the South, they are disproportionately Black, and many are not eligible for subsidies to buy private coverage on the ACA markets.

How much have child care challenges slowed the U.S. economy? Jason Furman, Melissa S. Kearney and Wilson Powell III write for the Aspen Economic Strategy Group: “School closings and ongoing childcare challenges have been a tremendous source of stress for parents during the pandemic. They are also likely to have lasting, negative impacts on the learning and social development of children. In this analysis, however, our focus is on the one specific, empirical question — how has parenting affected the aggregate employment numbers over the course of the pandemic. Instead, parents of young children have suffered about equally as others in the widespread and, in many cases, damaging employment losses that have occurred throughout the economy.”

Worker fears grow as states turn away unemployment aid: From NBC News: “Next month, Mississippi will begin turning down the federal dollars that have topped off many of the state’s unemployment checks, which max out at $235, with an additional $300 in weekly aid. Twelve other Republican-led states have announced similar moves; politicians claim that the extra unemployment funds lead workers to stay home, fueling a significant labor shortage. Critics have increasingly cast unemployment benefits as a lure for recipients drawn to easy money, rather than as a lifeline for those on the margins. But that doesn’t capture the full picture of what’s happening in households across the country. In interviews over the past week, economic experts, labor advocates and social service providers said that while people are choosing not to take jobs for many reasons, concern about health and safety has been left out of the conversation. Despite rising vaccination rates, many people don’t feel comfortable returning to jobs they see as risky — particularly if they haven’t been vaccinated or if they have young children or vulnerable relatives at home. Gary Burtless, an economist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that may especially be the case for people who worked in low-paying industries before the pandemic, such as food service and warehousing, as well as those with erratic work schedules, such as hospitality workers and home health aides. A lack of child care — particularly in communities where schools remain closed — is another major factor, he said. “All those things might make people, especially in low-paid positions, reluctant to take a job and perhaps reduce their family’s capacity to pay for its bills,” he said. “Why should they make financial sacrifices on behalf of an industry which historically has not paid them very good wages and not offered them very good benefits, and so on?”

Biden moves to improve legal services for at-risk communities: From CBS News: “President Biden took executive action Tuesday to boost access to legal services and the legal system for low-income Americans after government-led initiatives largely went dormant during the Trump administration. Biden’s presidential memorandum is the latest step taken by his administration to advance racial equity and joins his requested $1.5 billion for grants to bolster state and local criminal justice systems, including for public defenders. His action also comes nearly a year after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked protests against racial injustice and federal efforts to reform policing. “The federal government has a critical role to play in expanding access to the nation’s legal system and supporting the work of civil legal aid providers and public defenders,” the White House said in a fact sheet detailing the memorandum. “President Biden’s executive action today will reinvigorate the federal government’s role in advancing access to justice, and help ensure that the Administration’s policies and recovery efforts can reach as many individuals as possible.”

Some Texas teacher salaries will top 100K in bid to help schools hit hard by COVID: From the Texas Tribune: “In a move to create educational equity, Texas is set to offer some of its best teachers more than $100,000 annually, rewarding them for work in the state’s poorest schools where COVID-19 has devastated communities, resulting in months, if not years, of learning loss. “We need our best teachers to be able to do this work,” said Mohammed Choudhury, associate superintendent of strategy, talent and innovation for the San Antonio Independent School District. “We need them to extend their work and their leadership beyond their classroom to not only be able to move beyond COVID-19, but to build back better.” For the 193 teachers in San Antonio designated to lead this effort, that could mean extra days of intervention during holiday breaks throughout the school year, and tutoring after school and during the summer. Several Texas school districts already run similar master teacher programs or similar incentives that pay teachers extra stipends tied to their performance in the classroom. The new infusion of state funds from the Texas Education Agency’s Teacher Incentive Allotment will not only boost existing stipends, but fundamentally bend the concept of “incentive pay” toward equity using a payout structure that rewards the work done by excellent teachers in high-poverty schools.” 

Briefing for May 18, 2021

Study chronicles location, nature of over 1,000 incidents of anti-Asian hate: New research from the University of Michigan offers insights into the location, nature, and perpetrators of anti-Asian hate incidents that occurred in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Virulent Hate Project, which is supported by U-M’s Center for Social Solutions and Poverty Solutions initiative, reviewed 4,337 news articles from 2020 that addressed coronavirus-related, anti-Asian racism in the United States. From those articles, researchers identified 1,023 unique incidents of anti-Asian racism. The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in China, resurfaced long-held stereotypes about Asian Americans, and stigmatizing rhetoric led to increased anti-Asian hostility in 2020 that has continued in 2021, said Melissa Borja, lead researcher on the Virulent Hate Project and assistant professor in U-M’s Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program. Studying these hate incidents and making the data publicly accessible can contribute to a better understanding of anti-Asian racism, shape public policy, and guide the activism of Asian American community organizations, she said. The Virulent Hate Project supports the work of Stop AAPI Hate and the Bridging Divides Initiative at Princeton University. “We imagine this project as not just counting incidents of anti-Asian racism, but collecting hundreds of stories that can help shape the public conversation,” Borja said. “In addition to tracking anti-Asian hate incidents, it also is important to document the ways Asian American communities are resisting racism and advocating for anti-discrimination policies that will better protect them.”   

Child cash benefits will start hitting bank accounts on July 15: The Biden administration announced Monday that roughly 39 million American families will begin receiving direct cash payments in July under a child benefit created by Democrats’ coronavirus relief bill, the Washington Post reports. “The Internal Revenue Service on July 15 will start delivering a monthly payment of $300 per child under 6 and $250 per child 6 or older for those who qualify. The monthly benefits will be deposited directly in most families’ bank accounts on the 15th of every month — or the closest day to that date, if the 15th falls on a holiday or weekend — for the rest of the year, without any action required. For instance, an eligible family with two children ages 5 and 13 will receive $550 from the IRS directly to their bank accounts on or close to the 15th of every month from July to December.” 

Homicides surge in California amid COVID shutdowns of schools, youth programs: From Kaiser Health News: “Amid a pandemic that left law enforcement agencies stretched thin and forced shutdowns that left young men with little to do, California registered a devastating surge in homicides in 2020 that hit especially hard in Black and Latino communities. The number of homicide victims in California jumped 27% from 2019 to 2020, to about 2,300, marking the largest year-over-year increase in three decades, according to preliminary death certificate data from the California Department of Public Health. There were 5.8 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2020, the highest rate in California since 2008. Similar increases were seen nationwide. The number of homicides in a sampling of large cities grew 32% from 2019 to 2020, according to preliminary FBI data. The data encompasses over 200 cities with more than 100,000 people but does not include some big cities, like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, that did not report… Law enforcement officials and criminologists said an increase in conflict among young adults, particularly those in street gangs, was a significant factor in the violence. They noted that schools and sports programs shut down as COVID-19 surged, as did large numbers of community and nonprofit programs that provide support, recreational outlets, and intervention services for at-risk youth.” 

Mental health visits among vulnerable populations dipped dramatically during pandemic: Axios reports that people insured with Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program aren’t using mental health care services at the same rate as the rest of the population, according to new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Tens of millions of people under Medicaid and CHIP did without mental health services in 2020 compared to 2019. The new CMS report, which recorded primary, preventative and mental health care visits between March and October 2020, shows a 34% drop in the number of mental health services for children 19 and younger, compared to the same time period in 2019. Mental health services from adults aged 19 to 64 declined 22%. “This new data provides a window into the impacts of the pandemic for marginalized communities — particularly children and other vulnerable people — and is critical as we work towards meeting the needs of those that rely on Medicaid and CHIP,” CMS acting administrator Liz Richter said in a statement. 

Immigrants detained in Mississippi face COVID risks: Civil rights organizations filed a complaint Monday alleging that a COVID-19 outbreak at the Adams County Detention Center (ACDC) in Natchez, Miss., is recklessly endangering the lives of hundreds of people. On May 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported more than 350 cases of COVID-19 at ACDC, making it the largest outbreak at any ICE facility in the country at the time. Despite maintaining the authority to release immigrants from the prison at any time, ICE has created the emerging public health disaster by shifting the detention center to a short-term processing facility where people are rapidly transferred in and out of the prison and then relocated throughout the entire region. “ICE is knowingly spreading COVID-19 through facility transfers and even abroad with continued deportations,” said Lorena Quiroz, Director of the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity. “Nearly 15 months into the pandemic, it’s clear that this agency’s callous indifference toward the well-being of the Black and Brown immigrants under its custody is needlessly causing infections and deaths.” 

Briefing for May 17, 2021

Unemployment pay may again require a job search  Is it too soon? From the New York Times: “A tenet of the American unemployment system has been that anyone collecting benefits, in good times and bad, must look for work. That quid pro quo changed early in the pandemic. Profound fears of contagion and the sudden need for millions of workers to become caregivers led states to lift the requirements for reasons both practical and compassionate. But as vaccinations increase and the economy revs back to life, more than half of all states have revived their work search requirements. Arkansas and Louisiana did so months ago in an effort to push workers off their swollen unemployment rolls. Others, like Vermont and Kentucky, have followed in the last few weeks. The rest may be on the way. President Biden on Monday ordered the Labor Department to ‘work with the remaining states, as health and safety conditions allow,’ to put such requirements in place as the pandemic abates. Employers may welcome the moves as potentially enlarging the pool of job seekers. But for many workers, the search obligation is a premature declaration that the world has returned to normal even as legitimate concerns persist about contracting the virus and about child care constraints.” 

The economic recovery is getting messy — Just ask working women: The Washington Post looks at the mounting difficulties for many women to “return to the 4.5 million jobs they lost during the coronavirus crisis. (The equivalent number for men is 3.7 million.) The pandemic recession hit women particularly hard. In the months after the spring 2020 shutdowns, 11.3 million jobs held by women vanished almost immediately, as women are overrepresented in the retail, restaurant, travel, and hospitality sectors. Plus, lack of child care and closed schools meant many women, including those who didn’t lose their jobs, had to take on the bulk of caring for children. But now, even as those industries tentatively reopen, job growth for women is so low that, at April’s rate of just 161,000 jobs added per month, it would take 28 months to regain the pandemic losses — longer once population growth is taken into account. Women’s struggles are partly reflected in April’s disappointing jobs report overall, a release that muddled America’s triumphant recovery narrative and revealed that the labor market is stuck in limbo.” 

Latinos are most eager to be vaccinated, survey shows, but face obstacles: From Kaiser Health News: “Hispanics who have yet to receive a COVID shot are about twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites or Blacks to say they’d like to get vaccinated as soon as possible, according to a survey released last week. The findings hint at fixable, though difficult, vaccine access problems for the population. One-third of unvaccinated Hispanics say they want the shots, compared with 17% of Blacks and 16% of whites, according to the survey released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of KFF.) The results reflect an opportunity for public health departments and local governments to reach out to Hispanics with information and vaccinating teams, said Liz Hamel, vice president and director of public opinion and survey research at KFF and director of the organization’s monthly covid vaccine surveys. ‘There definitely is a large chunk of the Hispanic population that’s eager to get it, but they just have either not been able to fit it into their schedule, or they have some concerns or questions or they haven’t been able to access it,’ Hamel said.” 

The racial gap in U.S. vaccinations is shrinking, but work remains: Black and Hispanic people across the United States have received a disproportionately smaller share of vaccinations to date, according to a New York Times analysis of state-reported race and ethnicity information. And “vaccine disparities have grown in some of the most socially vulnerable parts of the nation, leaving many low-income communities of color with vaccination rates well below the national average. However, state and federal data reveal that the country has made some progress toward vaccine parity. Since March, nearly every state reporting the race and ethnicity of vaccinated people has seen the Black share of the total vaccinated population increase, inching closer to the Black share of the general population. In Mississippi, for example, where Black people make up about 38% of the general population, the Black share of those vaccinated increased to 34% in early May, from 26% in early March. ‘It’s a great example of what’s possible when you listen to communities and let them lead,’ Dr. Cameron Webb, the White House senior policy adviser for COVID-19 equity, said of Mississippi’s growing rates of vaccination among people of color. ‘Really it’s been attributed to the role of Black health care providers, faith leaders, and community leaders,’ Dr. Webb said. In recent weeks, members of these groups have organized vaccine clinics in primarily Black, Hispanic, Vietnamese, and rural populations in the state, he said. They have also worked with the state to bring more vaccines to private doctors — a trusted source of information on the vaccine — who could answer questions and advocate for vaccinations.” 

Older adults in rural areas may have more problems accessing COVID vaccines: From Healthline: “U.S. counties with lower COVID-19 vaccination rates among people 65 years or older also have higher numbers of older adults living in poverty or with other social vulnerabilities, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Older adults were among those prioritized to receive the vaccine early during the country’s rollout, as they are at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. But CDC researchers found that between December 2020 and April of this year, the percentage of older adults who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine varied widely across the country. During this time, 79.1% of older Americans received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Rates were slightly higher in men (79.6%) than women (77.5%). They were also slightly higher among 65- to 74-year-olds (79.6%) than people 75 years or older (78.3%). First-dose vaccination rates ranged from 68.9% in Alabama and 69.2% in West Virginia to 92.9% in Vermont and 99.9% in New Hampshire. Researchers also found that counties with lower vaccination rates among older adults were more likely to have higher numbers of older adults living in poverty, living alone, or without access to a computer or the internet.” 

From stress to healthcare — How COVID-19 is impacting people of color differently: Healthline recently conducted a survey that reveals health inequities by ethnicity. “Comparing data from 1,533 U.S. adults collected in February 2020 with data from 1,577 adults in December 2020, the survey revealed that People of Color (POC) are less likely to rate their overall health and wellness as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ compared with white Americans. Moreover, COVID-19 specifically impacted the physical and mental health of POC. ‘COVID-19 has brought to the forefront a tale of two pandemics. One of which has impacted every major system within our [country]: systemic racism. The other [pandemic], COVID-19, has made the general public aware of the inequities that exist within our systems of care as Black Indigenous Persons of Color (BIPOC) and those that identify as Latino or Latinx have always experienced disproportionate inequities in healthcare,’ Andrea Heyward, deputy director of the Center for Community Health Alignment, told Healthline.” 

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