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America’s history of racism was a preexisting condition for COVID-19

A Louisiana pastor prays as his parishioners die, first from cancer and now from COVID-19. An Indigenous community in New Mexico lacks adequate health care as the death toll mounts. A sick hospital worker in New Jersey frets about infecting others in her heavily populated neighborhood.

a group of people standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Parishioners stand in Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Reserve, LA, during a sermon by Rev. Fr. Christopher Chike Amadi.

© Jasper Colt, USA TODAY
Parishioners stand in Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Reserve, LA, during a sermon by Rev. Fr. Christopher Chike Amadi.

As the country cries out for a vaccine and a return to normal, lost in the policy debates is the reality that COVID-19 kills far more people of color than white Americans. This isn’t a matter of coincidence, poor choices or bad luck – it’s by design. 

A team of USA TODAY reporters explored how the policies of the past and present have made Black, Asian, Hispanic and Indigenous Americans prime targets for COVID-19. They found:

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America’s education and economic systems are still unequal, disproportionately leaving people of color out of higher-wage jobs. When COVID-19 struck, more people of color were serving as essential workers directly in the path of the virus.

Decades of discrimination in housing corralled people of color into tightly packed neighborhoods, fueling the virus’ spread. Those neighborhoods tend to lie in “food deserts,” leading to diabetes, obesity and heart disease that make people more likely to die from the virus.

Environmental policies designed by white power brokers at the expense of the poor has poisoned the air they breathe, fueling cancers and leaving communities weakened in the path of the virus. A lack of federal funding left the most vulnerable communities cut off from healthcare at the most critical moment.

Put simply, America’s history of racism was itself a preexisting condition.

Of the 10 U.S. counties with the highest death rates from COVID-19, seven have populations where people of color make up the majority, according to data compiled by USA TODAY. Of the top 50 counties with the highest death rates, 31 are populated mostly by people of color. 

“COVID-19 has brought out into the open, with painful clarity, these divisions in our society that have been there for a long time but, for one reason or another, people were able to overlook them,” said Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program at Boston College.

With nearly 1,000 people a day dying from the virus and scientists scrambling to grasp exactly how the virus spreads and kills, federal and state data has not provided enough demographic detail to show the full impact on communities of color. The race and ethnicity of people who contract the virus is known in 52% of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

But study after study has shown clear patterns in whom the virus kills.

How systemic racism led to COVID-19’s rapid spread among people of color



Black people are more than

As Trump’s condition makes headlines, America’s pandemic is getting worse

The extraordinary attention generated by President Donald Trump’s fight with Covid-19 has obscured an alarming turn in a pandemic that is showing signs of accelerating as colder weather approaches, with 2,000 new America deaths recorded since he was diagnosed.

a man talking on a cell phone: WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 02: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Cases of Covid-19 are rising in 22 states and are falling in only five, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, and the death toll in the United States is approaching 210,000. Yet there are few signs, despite the virus sweeping through the White House and infecting Trump allies on Capitol Hill of any fresh White House appreciation of the danger or a plan to try to slow the spread of the disease.


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The latest close Trump associate to return positive tests were White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany along with two other press aides. There is little indication that the administration has undertaken a serious effort to contact and trace people who were at a Supreme Court nominating event nine days ago at the White House that appears to have infected multiple people. There are no official briefings warning Americans about what they need to do to mitigate the worsening situation. And the government experts who once were front and center are never seen alongside the President.

Trump did say he had learned a lot about Covid-19 during his stay in Walter Reed military hospital where he was taken on Friday, but the main focus of the President’s aides has been projecting him as strong 29 days ahead of an election in which he appears to be in considerable trouble. The President’s drive-by photo-op Sunday in front of supporters gathered with flags and banners outside Walter Reed reflected how he has consistently put his own personal and political goals ahead of a serious approach to the worst public health emergency in 100 years.

On Friday, when Trump went into the hospital, the United States recorded more than 54,000 new cases of the virus and 906 deaths. On Saturday, close to 50,000 new cases were reported along with 687 deaths. And on Sunday, there were 36,600 cases and 410 deaths according to Johns Hopkins figures collected by CNN. Tallies at the weekend are generally lower due to the difficulty of reporting.

Such numbers utterly contradict the message that Trump was giving hours before he was diagnosed with the disease himself, that the US was “turning the corner” and that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.”

The newly diagnosed patients will not have the state-of-the-art facilities, experimental treatments and dedicated hospital suites that are afforded to the President of the United States. Many patients in the pandemic have died

Signs America’s Opioid Epidemic Might Finally Be Waning | Health News

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter


SATURDAY, Oct. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Here’s some heartening news on the opioid painkillers front: Abuse of the prescription medicines in the United States fell by more than one-quarter between 2007 and 2018.

“Prior research has shown slight reductions in abuse rates, but our analysis shows we’re tracking statistically significant year-to-year declines in abuse, indicating that the decrease is not an anomaly and truly represents a trend in falling prescription drug abuse levels,” said study author Mario Moric, a biostatistician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

He and his colleagues analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey of about 70,000 Americans aged 12 and older who are asked about their use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

For the study, prescription opioid abuse was defined as use without the consent of a physician.

The percentage of survey respondents who said they’d abused prescription opioids in the previous year fell from 4.9% in 2007 to 3.7% in 2018, a 26% decrease.

There were significant declines in prescription opioid abuse from 2012 to 2018, with the exception of 2015, when higher numbers were reported due to a survey redesign introduced that year, the researchers said.

The findings were to be presented Saturday at the virtual annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

“We believe the message of the dangers of opioid use without supervision of a medical professional is finally getting through and changing people’s mindset and behavior,” Moric said in a meeting news release.

“Pain medications such as opioids are an important resource in the treatment and care of patients, but they are not a cure-all,” said study co-author Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran, chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Committee on Pain Medicine and executive vice chair of anesthesiology at Rush University Medical Center.

“Since opioids have risks and can be highly addictive, they should be used only under the supervision of a physician who can consider their safety and how the medication will affect a patient over time,” Buvanendran said in the release. “Prescribers and patients are now better armed with the information they need to make educated choices in pain management.”

Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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