Health
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July 24, 2021

Delta variant rising in Black communities, experts say get vaccinated

By Jaelen Ogadhoh
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Health experts and local leaders nationwide continue to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations as new data shows an increase in delta variant cases in Black communities.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Healthcare (MLKCH), one of Los Angeles’ leading medical institutions, released data on July 19 via Facebook showing that Black Americans are being hit harder by the virus than other communities and encouraged all unvaccinated individuals to visit their local clinic.

Per their findings, Black Americans account for 51% of all new COVID-19 cases and the delta variant has made up 51% of new cases in LA County in the past eight weeks. 42% of all new cases have been from members of Latinx/Hispanic communities.

Their data also shows a rapid increase in delta variant cases since May. According to their research, 38% of all new cases in the state of California resulted from the delta variant in June, a large jump from just 5.6% of new cases in May.

Dr. Elaine Batchlor, president and CEO of MLKCH said it is more important now than ever to get vaccinated, especially within the Black community.

“If you’ve been waiting to get your COVID vaccine, now is the time to stop waiting and do it. COVID  vaccines are powerful weapons to protect yourself and prevent the continued spread of COVID in our community, including the delta variant,” Batchlor said. 

“The delta variant is spreading quickly and can cause more severe illness. Unfortunately, the Black community is lagging behind in COVID vaccination and as a result, is experiencing higher rates of infection and hospitalization. Let’s not allow this terrible disease to decimate our community again,” she added.

The delta variant is also on the rise in Colorado and local health centers are finding that Black Americans are not as highly vaccinated as other communities, prompting Black local leaders to try and help increase vaccination rates within the community.

According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), 65% of white people in the state have gotten at least one shot while only 52% of Black people have.

Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse released a public service announcement intended to persuade those on the fence to get vaccinated, saying it is “our opportunity to move forward for our communities.”

The PSA was released in collaboration with African Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Maya Wheeler, Colorado Representative Leslie Herod Colorado Senator Janet Buckner and Black businessman Eula Adams.

Buckner sympathized with those skeptical of vaccines, referencing past instances of deadly experiments by the federal government on Black people such as the Tuskegee experiment, but added that “with this vaccine this time, we have more information. One of the lead doctors in developing the vaccine was a Black woman.”

“A couple of my granddaughters are too young to get the vaccine,” Buckner continued. “So we’re hoping our voice make a difference.”

As local leaders and experts continue to urge vaccinations, the rise in cases around the country is coinciding with some states actually rolling back their frequency of reporting, according to the Associated Press. Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota are all moving from daily reporting to weekly reporting, a data trend that is causing concern among health officials.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, epidemiologist and biostatistician at the University of California, San Francisco, said data plays a big role in informing decision-making among leaders, businesses, and civilians.

“We know that showing the data to others actually is important because the actions that businesses take, the actions that schools take, the actions that civic leaders take, the actions that community leaders take, the actions that each of us individually take are all influenced by our perception of what the risk is out there,” Bibbins-Domingo said.

“Even if we know that they are available to decision-makers on a daily basis, there is considerable value to providing the data to the public,” she added.

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