COVID-19 has taken an unrelenting toll on this country in the five months since the pandemic began. As deaths hit 1,000 per day over the last month, new data suggests that COVID-19 has become the third leading cause of death for Black people.
According to CBS News, a new study from the Brookings Institution shows that only heart disease and cancer are projected to have higher mortality rates than COVID-19.
“In 2020 more Black Americans will die of COVID-19 than will succumb to diabetes, strokes, accidents, or pneumonia,” the study states. Black people living predominantly in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid has been one of the leading factors behind the death toll, according to the report. According to CNN, the CDC is projecting that COVID-19 will be the third leading cause of death overall this year in the United States.
“If I told you on Jan. 1 that a new virus that we did not even know about would, in August, be the third leading cause of death for Black Americans, our hair should have been set on fire and we would have an extensive public policy response to this unprecedented pandemic,” Trevor Logan, co-author of the report and economics professor at Ohio State University, told CBS News. Logan added that the devastating effects of the virus have gone unacknowledged due to people having been under semi-quarantine throughout the pandemic.
Another factor contributing to the large death toll has been long-standing economic disparities between races. Bradley Hardy, the other author of the study, pointed out that 50 percent of Black households have lost employment income since the start of the pandemic and that 20 percent of Black households experience difficulty getting food. “There’s not just well-documented income gaps, but there’s also really yawning wealth gaps,” Hardy told CBS News. This means that Black families typically don’t have a substantial amount of savings to lean on in times of economic hardship.
The study comes as more than 1,000 people have died daily in the United States from COVID-19 over the last month. CNN reports that the CDC projects deaths could climb to 189,000 by Sept. 5. Currently, over 5.4 million have been infected with the virus and 170,136 people have died. Testing has slowed in 17 states despite positivity rates, the number of tests that come back positive, climbing in 34 states.
As states steadily reopen schools for in-person learning, cases among children have risen as well. Early on, it appeared children didn’t contract the virus at a similar rate to adults.
“Recent evidence suggests that children likely have the same or higher viral loads in their nasopharynx compared with adults and that children can spread the virus effectively in households and camp settings,” the CDC said.
Outbreaks of the virus have already been reported at schools that have reopened. In Georgia, three schools have already closed as a result of coronavirus. It’s almost like reopening schools while the virus is steadily surging across the country wasn’t, exactly, the smartest move.
There is hope that SalivaDirect, a new saliva test developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health, could provide an easy and inexpensive way to help slow the spread of the virus. On Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration gave the test authorization for emergency use. “If cheap alternatives like SalivaDirect can be implemented across the country, we may finally get a handle on this pandemic, even before a vaccine,” Nathan Grubaugh, a Yale assistant professor of epidemiology, told CNN.
As always wash your hands, stay home when you can, and wear a face mask when you can’t. Stay safe out there, folks.
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