COVID-19 vaccination urged as Delta exacts toll on Black Iowans

The Black vaccination rate has begun to increase slightly, but the delta variant has already cut far too many Black lives short.

Broderick 'Boo' Daye, of Des Moines, died of COVID-19 on Aug. 28. He loved family, church and his fraternity. Facebook profile photo.

When chills, aches and pains forced Broderick 'Boo' Daye to sleep with a blanket in late July, he knew it wasn't right.

Fully vaccinated in April with the Pfizer vaccine, Daye, 56, quickly got tested for COVID-19. When the test came back positive for the delta variant, he shared the bad news on Facebook: "I was hurt."

Within a day of his positive test result, Daye, a double kidney transplant recipient who had several chronic health issues, including diabetes and hypertension, said in a Facebook post his breathing problems were so severe he had to be helped inside the emergency room from his car.

A beloved member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Daye, who worked for 22 years as a probation/parole officer for the state of Iowa, urged people to get vaccinated from his hospital bed. He died on Aug. 28, after a protracted battle with COVID-19 and related conditions. His homegoing service on Sept. 7, handled by Henderson's Highland Park Funeral Home, was attended by about 700 people and available via streaming.

Brenda Daye-Wilson, Daye's sister from Atlanta, Georgia, has now lost two close family members to COVID-19. Her son, Bryce Wilson 31, died on April 2, 2020. Sadly, Bryce's daughter, Ameilia, was born after her father died, she said.

"With all of his underlying conditions, I would have thought that kidney failure would taken him out or, you know, maybe heart disease or diabetes," she said, about Broderick. "But this doggone virus is what got him — and took my 31-year old son last year."

Siblings: Brian Daye, Breon Daye, Brenda Daye-Wilson and Broderick 'Boo' Daye. Photo courtesy of Brenda Daye-Wilson.

Iowa’s COVID-19 tests, cases, and hospitalizations continue to trend upward — primarily among the unvaccinated — according to the latest data from the New York Times. Deaths are trending downward.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that due to the rise of the delta variant, unvaccinated people are 4.5 times more likely to get COVID-19, 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19, said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Sept. 10 during a White House press briefing.

The CDC reported 2,675 vaccinated people out of 176 million vaccinated Americans, like Daye, have died of breakthrough cases of COVID-19, as of Sept. 7.

Delta accounts for 99% of the cases in the U.S., and is challenging Iowa schools, which can’t require face masks as a mitigation tactic due to the state’s face masks ban. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights is underway, and parents have initiated lawsuits challenging Iowa’s contentious anti-mask law signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

A judge on Friday declined to temporarily block the state's mask ban in a suit brought by a parent, according to the Des Moines Register. Another suit is pending.

"We have to push the legislature in the 2023 session to add the recall mechanism into our state constitution," said Joshua Jack, of Davenport. "She (Reynolds) has no business managing the lives of nearly 3.2 million Iowans, let alone a Dairy Queen. How are her actions not intentional manslaughter?"

President Joe Biden directly addressed the nation's divisiveness on Thursday when he unveiled new vaccination requirements.

“Let me be blunt. My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining you and these lifesaving actions. Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs. Talk about bullying in schools. If they’ll not help — if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way,” said Biden, as he announced a six-point plan to tackle the issues.

A key component of the plan will require all employers with 100 employees or more to vaccinate or regularly test their employees. About 17 million health care workers will also be required to get vaccinated.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that performs health policy analysis, 75% of Americans have been vaccinated with at least one dose. In the past 14 days, a larger share of vaccinations have gone to Black Americans.

“These recent patterns suggest a narrowing of racial gaps in vaccinations at the national level, particularly for Hispanic and Black people, who account for a larger share of recent vaccinations compared to their share of the total population (26% vs. 17% and 15% vs. 12%, respectively),” according to KFF.

Even so, the pandemic is taking a toll on Black Iowans.

  • Since the pandemic began, Black Iowans account for a disproportionate number of positive cases, 13,527, according to the Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, an independent tracking site. The total number of people infected in Iowa since the pandemic began is about 421,333.
  • Black Iowans account for 166 COVID-19 deaths. A total of 6,393 Iowans have died of COVID-19, according to the tracking site.
  • 28% of Black Iowans are vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to 51% of white Iowans, according to a Sept. 9 KFF analysis.
  • Iowa tied with Florida and South Dakota for the worst white-to-Black ratio in vaccinations among the 42 states Kaiser analyzed.
  • According to provisional death counts by the National Center for Health Statistics, about 97,323 Black Americans have died of COVID-19, as of Sept. 9.

Bryce Wilson and his daughter, Ameilia. Bryce Wilson died of COVID-19 on April 2, 2020, before Ameilia was born. Photo courtesy of Brenda Daye-Wilson.

"To me it's not a matter of if you get it, it's a matter of when. The virus does not care what you think, your politics, your conspiracy theories or anything else," said Daye-Wilson, who is fully vaccinated and said she wears a face mask faithfully.

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In Broderick Daye's Facebook post on Aug. 7, he thanked friends and family for their prayers and wrote: "In closing, if you are still in denial or choosing not to get vaccinated (then) I'm just gonna tell you, that's a very dumb decision that could permanently affect you for the rest of your life. Don't play with your life…it is not a GAME# #IWILLBEFOREVERMASKEDUP."

Because he had pushed the vaccines during his hospitalization, two people told Daye-Wilson they got vaccinated. That exemplified their beloved "Boo," also called "Mr. Alpha," who was always helping others.

Now his siblings, Brenda, Brian and Breon, must go on without him because of an unrelenting pandemic that has stolen so much from them and from so many others.

"We were with him at the very end," Daye-Wilson said.

Broderick Daye's Obituary

Related: COVID-19 & Iowa schools

Sarah Ekstrand, public information officer for the Iowa Department of Public Health, said in an email schools can require isolation for sick students and staff (require them not to come to school or work) in accordance with district policies.

She provided the definitions for isolation and quarantine:

  • "Isolation is the practice of staying home when you are sick until you are no longer infectious (can’t get others sick)."
  • "Quarantine is the practice of staying away from other people when you have been exposed to someone who is sick even though you still feel well."

The department provided guidance to assist local public health, school districts and child care settings with exclusion criteria for children who are diagnosed with a communicable disease, she said

“Schools do not have the authority to quarantine without the involvement of a public health agency,” she said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is “not currently issuing isolation and quarantine orders for COVID-19 positive or COVID-19 exposed individuals,” she said, which has angered some parents.

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