African Americans may be vulnerable to COVID-19 because many suffer from underlying health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity. Details of racial disparities came after data revealed the majority of New York’s more than 5,489 deaths due to coronavirus were among men, and 86% of all deaths were among people who had underlying illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes.
The Crisis Standards of Care, which helps hospitals ration critical resources like ventilators and ICU beds to those who are most likely to benefit from them, recommends that hospitals use frameworks that include the patient’s age, how critically ill the patient is at arrival, and the “comorbidities” — in other words, the underlying illnesses that can put patients who are infected with COVID-19 at a higher risk for worse outcomes. These guidelines aim to treat individual cases fairly, but a system that penalizes on the basis of comorbidities, or underlying health conditions, will undoubtedly and unfairly penalize the populations that are already more vulnerable to those conditions. This will almost certainly mean that racial and ethnic minorities will be placed in the “back of the line” for critical care resources.
Coronavirus cases and related deaths soar in cities with significant black populations, including New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, and New York. But, only a few states have released the racial information, including Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey and North Carolina. Data from these states shows blacks are dying at a disproportionately higher rate compared with whites. In both Chicago and Louisiana, black patients account for 70% of coronavirus deaths, even though they make up roughly a third of the population.
What Can We Do?
We need to know the facts. We need to divert testing and resources to at-risk and minority communities. Testing may support adequate treatment and next steps. We need to ramp up testing and include demographics in the reporting. The facts will inform policy and programming and what resources are needed and where.
Improve the public health messaging of COVID-19 so that it is culturally sensitive and appropriate.
Faith-based communities have been known to address the health concerns of their parishioners. Public health messaging can be shared during the virtual worship services, church websites, etc.
In the meantime… please follow the advice of the experts. Take care of yourself, shelter-in-place if you are able, physical distance 6 feet apart, wash your hands for 20 seconds, and wear masks or face-coverings.
*For more information on health disparities in general, and to illustrate the impact of health disparities, please watch “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” https://unnaturalcauses.org. This is a 7-part documentary series that explores racial and social inequalities in health.
The environment in which we live is a major determinant of our health and wellbeing. Clean air, water, soil, plants, food supplies, and even our community environment which includes the Social Determinants of Health, are essential for our personal health. In my blog’s Environmental Health Series, we will continue to talk about the environment and try to answer the question, “What is an unhealthy environment and how does it get under the skin?”The environment’s effect on our health is complicated, but there are ways that we can prevent and reduce toxic exposure.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because your natural health and wellness is important. You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of poor health, including chronic disease, so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight, and maybe reverse some chronic diseases (if you suffer from them). In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy.
Tools for COVID-19 Prevention
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free. Get the vaccine: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/
While COVID-19 cases continue to soar, better masks will help protect against transmission. The CDC says a NIOSH-approved N95 provides the most protection. Well-fitting surgical masks and KN95 masks offer the next best protection, followed by cloth masks with multiple layers. I recommend this Face Mask NIOSH N95 w/o Valve.
CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands. But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. I recommend TriDerma Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer.
Choose a face shield that wraps around the sides of your face and extends below your chin or a hooded face shield. This is based on the limited available data that suggest these types of face shields are better at preventing spray of respiratory droplets. I recommend Shield U PPE Headgear and Face Shield.
An oximeter may be useful for monitoring oxygen levels if a person has a light case of COVID-19 and is treating it at home.
Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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Last updated on January 24th, 2022 at 09:40 pm
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