COVID-19 milestone: 100,000 Black Americans have died

Black Iowa News COVID-19 Update

The nation has crossed a grim milestone: More than 100,000 Black Americans have died of COVID-19, according to national health statistics.

Nationally, 684,884 Americans have died of COVID-19. The delta variant, a coronavirus mutation, continues to wreak havoc across the nation and is driving cases, hospitalizations and deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recently reported more than 120,000 daily COVID-19 cases, nearly 10,000 hospitalizations and almost 2,000 deaths. Most of the cases and deaths occur in people who haven’t been vaccinated.

“Vaccination provides the best possible protection against COVID-19 infections, severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a White House Press briefing on Sept. 24.

Now, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for certain groups. Two vaccines, J&J and Moderna, are also being evaluated for booster status, health experts said.

“I’m also aware of the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on racial and ethnic minority communities. Many of our frontline workers, essential workers, and those in congregate settings come from communities that have already been hardest hit,” Walensky said, during the press briefing. “Withholding access for boosters from these people and communities would only worsen the inequities that I have committed to fight against.”

High attendance at festivals, concerts, sporting events and back-to-school squabbles over face mask mandates in Iowa have made it difficult to gauge how serious most people regard the pandemic — now 18 months long.

In Iowa, COVID-19 tests, cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue trending upward as of Sept. 27, according to the New York Times.

Nationally, Blacks are more likely to know someone who has had COVID-19, been hospitalized or has died of the virus, according to a Pew Center survey.

Here are the latest pandemic details:

Vaccination:

  • The CDC has reported 4,493 vaccinated people out of 181 million vaccinated Americans have died, and 14,623 have been hospitalized due to breakthrough cases of COVID-19, as of Sept. 20.
  • Unvaccinated Americans appear less concerned about COVID-19 and are less likely to wear masks, according to a survey from Pew Research Center.
  • 65.8% of Iowans 18 and up are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s website.
  • Blacks make up 25% of Iowa's prison population, but just 22% of those who are fully vaccinated as of Sept. 16, a spokesperson from the Iowa Department of Corrections said in an email. Vaccinations are not mandatory for staff or incarcerated individuals and but are offered to those who are interested, said Sarah Fineran, research director for the corrections department. The department plans to produce a public video for its YouTube page in October about its COVID-19 response and provide updated vaccination information.

COVID-19 Tests:

With the change in seasons, many people are struggling to tell if their symptoms are COVID-19, or seasonal allergies, which is also driving a need for more testing.

  • Iowa has had 10,154 positive tests during the past seven days, according to the state’s coronavirus website.

Face masks:

  • A national study found that schools in counties without face mask mandates had larger increases in pediatric COVID-19 case rates, compared to counties without the requirements. Another study found schools without mask requirements were 3.5 times more likely to have outbreaks, compared to schools with mask requirements, according to Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, Your Local Epidemiologist.

Pfizer Booster

The CDC recommends a booster for the following people who have completed a 2-dose Pfizer series:

  • People who are older than 65
  • 18 and older living in long-term care settings
  • People who are age 50 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions

The CDC also said people who are 18-49 with an underlying medical condition, people 18-64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission due to working or residing in certain settings are also eligible for a Pfizer booster shot.

President Joe Biden received his booster shot on Monday.

“But let me be clear: Boosters are important, but the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated," he said.

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COVID-19 and Blacks:

  • According to provisional death counts by the National Center for Health Statistics, about 101,462 Black Americans have died of COVID-19, as of Sept. 22.
  • About 168 Black Iowans have died, according to the state’s coronavirus website. Iowans account for 6,482 COVID-19 deaths.
  • 29% of Black Iowans are vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to 51% of white Iowans, according to a Sept. 20 Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.
  • Iowa tied with Florida and South Dakota for the worst white-to-Black ratio in vaccinations among the 43 states Kaiser analyzed.

In Iowa, Black people have received 2% of vaccinations, while making up 5% of cases, 3% of deaths and 4% of the total population, according to KFF.

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