The early days of COVID-19 brought fear of the unknown. Another factor, misinformation, has continued to invade the COVID-19 conversation discourse. One persistent piece of misinformation is that COVID-19 is not truly a deadly disease. Not only is this idea false, it is, in fact, deadly.
According to The National Institutes of Health, “COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States between March 2020 and October 2021, according to an analysis of national death certificate data by researchers at the National Cancer Institute.” Further, “[d]uring the 20-month period studied, COVID-19 accounted for 1 in 8 deaths (or 697,000 deaths) in the United States. Heart disease was the number one cause of death, followed by cancer, with these two causes of death accounting for a total of 2.15 million deaths. Accidents and stroke were the fourth and fifth leading causes of death. In every age group 15 years and older, COVID-19 was one of the top five causes of death during this period.”
As previously reported by the AmNews, “as of October 24, 2022, 1.8 New Yorkers/100,000 hospitalized with COVID were vaccinated as opposed to 12/100,000 New Yorkers who were unvaccinated.” Influenza, a disease often inappropriately compared to COVID-19 by those who are mis-informed, saw deaths of 52,000 people in the United States during the 2017-2018 flu season, which was the deadliest in the past decade.
The toll that COVID-19 had on Black and brown communities has become increasingly clear as the pandemic has raged on. COVID-19 was also the third leading cause of death for Black Americans by late summer of 2020, and continues to have a grip on Black and brown communities. The impact of COVID-19 has put a very clear spotlight on social and racial inequities that persist in this country. According to the authors of the article “Assessment of Structural Barriers and Racial Group Disparities of COVID-19 Mortality With Spatial Analysis,” “In the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected racial and ethnic minority groups. Nationally, COVID-19 has been associated with higher infection and mortality rates in American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, and Hispanic or Latinx communities across state and regional levels. This pattern is consistent with racial and ethnic minority groups bearing a disproportionate burden of health inequalities, which are associated with morbidity and mortality, in the U.S. today.”
Dr. Sara Al-Dahir, a clinical associate professor in the Division of Clinical & Administrative Sciences and clinical assistant professor at Xavier University of Louisiana, shared her perspective on COVID-19, stating, “We still have pockets of younger African Americans who are still quite disengaged from the public health conversation because they see it as a continuation or a portion of the conversations that center around equity in general, social justice issues as well, and so for those groups of individuals they are still at risk for what might be an ongoing pandemic because they are vaccine [-hesitant] and they still don’t necessarily identify themselves as at risk but they still bear a lot of those risks, but they have the benefit of being young.”
Regarding where we are headed with COVID-19, Al-Dahir told the AmNews that “we still have people that are vaccine [-hesitant] and not fully aware of their risks or they feel that the risk has peaked and gone away and then finally when I think of we nationally, when we look at the rollout of the bivalent vaccine…it’s very slow. It’s much slower than the initial vaccine rollout. It’s much slower than what we saw in August with the Delta surge, so nationally, if we don’t have higher uptake of the bivalent vaccine…we globally are not out of the woods. There’s people that are in different parts of the woods.”
For additional resources around COVID-19 please visit www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/index.page or call 311. New Yorkers can find locations of where to pick up free rapid tests by calling 311 or by visiting: www.nychealthandhospitals.org/covid-19-testing-sites/ and can schedule an at-home test by calling (929) 298-9400 between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. seven days a week.COVID-19 testing and vaccination resources can also be accessed on the AmNews’ COVID-19 page: www.amsterdamnews.com/covid/