With hospitalizations rising around the country, the Biden-Harris administration are working with medical experts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to blunt the impact of the new Omicron variant. Broadway shows are shuttering, some professional sports teams again are playing without fans in attendance, and some nations are enacting travel bans. “I want to send a direct message to the American people: Due to the steps we’ve taken, Omicron has not yet spread as fast as it would’ve otherwise done and as is happening in Europe,” President Biden asserted. “But it’s here now, and it’s spreading, and it’s going to increase,” he insisted. Experts at the University of Minnesota’s Centers for Infectious Disease Research and Policy issued a warning that millions of Americans might suffer infections over the holidays because of the Omicron variant. The National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens announced the team’s upcoming games will take place without fans, and the NFL and NBA have reported uptick in COVID-related player issues. Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said the omicron variant has been found among cases throughout the league. The NBA’s Chicago Bulls canceled two games this week because of an outbreak among personnel in the Windy City. Some colleges and universities have returned to online learning, and some grade schools have resorted to hybrid models. “For unvaccinated, we are looking at a winter of severe illness and death – if you’re unvaccinated – for themselves, their families, and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm,” President Biden declared in a statement late Thursday. He said those fully vaccinated – including booster shots – are protected from severe illness and death. The President proclaimed that “booster shots work.” “They are free, safe, and convenient,” the President said. About 60 million people have received booster shots, and the White House continues to urge all to protect themselves. “It’s time. It’s past time,” President Biden remarked. “And we’re going to protect our economic recovery if we do this. We’re going to keep schools and businesses open if we do this. And I want to see everyone around enjoy that. I […]
Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11. The move has garnered criticism and speculation about the vaccine’s effectiveness and health risks for children. Many parents are still unsure and are looking for more information about the vaccine for their children, and when it comes to our Black and Brown children, we want to make sure you are doing everything possible to keep our kids safe as they are impacted more than others. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding Pfizer for children, and answers provided by the experts at childrenshospital.org. Why is the dose for 5-11-year-olds based on age and not by weight? The Pfizer phase 3 trials included children of various sizes from age range 5-6 to age range 10-11. The FDA determined that the immune responses from the two age groups were very similar and that the immune responses in the children were similar to the responses of adults with a higher dosage. What are the side effects for children after receiving the vaccine? The most common symptoms are a mild-to-moderate headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and sometimes a mild fever. These symptoms usually last around a day or two. How many doses will children need? The dosage for adults with the Pfizer vaccine is the same dosage children will receive; two doses, with the second dose coming three weeks after the first. Does my child still need the vaccine if they have already had COVID-19? Yes, children should still get the vaccine even if they already had the COVID-19 virus. Even though there is some immunity after being infected, it is not known how long that immunity lasts. Should my child get the vaccine if they are currently infected with COVID-19? No. People infected with the virus can get the vaccine after they are no longer sick and can stop isolation. Talk with your doctor about when your child should receive the vaccine. Will the vaccine affect my child’s future fertility? There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects fertility.
By: Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent Colin Powell has died from complications from Covid-19, his family members have confirmed. The first Black US secretary of state was 84. “General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19,” the former General’s family wrote on Facebook. “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family wrote. They reported that Powell had been fully vaccinated. Powell became the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. He also counted as the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush. Powell was thrust into the global spotlight after leading the United States to victory during the Gulf War, with many even considering him as a presidential candidate.
By: Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent It’s well-documented that the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in communities everywhere, but African Americans mainly have borne the brunt of the disease’s impact. Now, a new study published by the University of Michigan delves further into yet another systemic problem. Findings from the study show that Black patients experienced the lowest physician follow-up post-discharge and the most protracted delays (35.5 days) in returning to work. More than half of hospital readmissions within the 60 days following discharge were among non-White patients (55%), and the majority of post-discharge deaths were among White patients (21.5%). “The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx communities in the United States compared with White communities in both morbidity and mortality,” the study authors wrote. The report noted that hospitalization rates for Black and Latinx patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 are approximately three times higher than those of similar White patients. “It is therefore unsurprising that of the 216,635 COVID-19–related deaths in the United States to date for which we have race and ethnicity data available, 29.3% have been Black (34,374) or Latinx (29,063), which correlate with US population norms,” the authors continued. White persons in the United States account for approximately 76% of the population and 61.1% of deaths (132,315). Notably, Black and Latinx adults have an increased prevalence of comorbid conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease, associated with an increased risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. Further, significant numbers of Black and Latinx adults have occupations considered essential, requiring close contact with others, thereby hindering the ability to effectively socially distance, self-isolate, or work from home, the study revealed. “Health disparities, or preventable differences in health outcomes, are known to be driven by a variety of economic, environmental, and social factors, including institutional or structural racism and bias in health treatment,” the authors conceded. For example, researchers cited a recent study that evaluated patients with COVID-19 among five US emergency departments. That study found that Black patients accounted for the majority (56.7%) of readmissions within 72 hours, whereas White
By: Gregory Smith, Howard University News Service During the pandemic, Black businesses have faced challenges. Some were forced to close or nearly shut down, while others were fortunate to have an uptick in business. Black businesses were hit the hardest and had to adapt quickly to the mandatory shutdowns across the country while everyone was forced to stay at home. Here’s a look at how Black businesses from the nation’s capital to the deep south have managed to survive through creative strategies. WASHINGTON – Virginia Ali is owner of Ben’s Chili Bowl, an iconic restaurant she and her husband, Ben Ali, opened in 1958 in Washington D.C. Ben Ali died in 2009. He was 82. The restaurant has since become such a landmark that a long list of celebrities have made a trek through its doors, including former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Serena Williams, Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Durant, Steve Harvey, Kevin Hart, Mary J. Blige, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Anthony Bourdain. The restaurant is woven into the fabric of the city’s Black community. It helped serve the tens of thousands of protesters who came to Washington during the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968 and the March on Washington in 1963. Ben’s was one of the few restaurants open after curfew to provide food and shelter for those working to restore order after the Washington riots in 1968 following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Still, Ali said that COVID-19 was the hardest obstacle that her business has ever faced, because this was the first time that her business had to close its doors for an extended amount of time. It normally stayed open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. and until 4 a.m. on the weekends, she said. “We didn’t receive the (federal Paycheck Protection Program) loan the first go around,” Ali said. “We had to cut back on staff, adjust our hours, and figure out a way to reach the community in a different and more effective way. This virus has been very frightening, but our community
According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-dose regimens of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines provided a high level of protection against COVID-19 hospitalizations in a real-world evaluation at 21 U.S. hospitals during the period between March 11 and August 15. Vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 hospitalization for Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech doses were 93 percent and 88 percent, respectively, whereas the single-dose Janssen [Johnson & Johnson] vaccine had a lower effectiveness rate at 71 percent. Protection for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine declined four months after vaccination. Released Friday, September 17, the report revealed that individuals vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine also had lower post-vaccination anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody levels than did recipients of mRNA vaccines. In addition, although an immunologic correlate of protection has not been established for COVID-19 vaccines, the researchers found that antibody titers after infection and vaccination have been associated with protection. “These real-world data suggest that the 2-dose Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine regimens provide more protection than does the 1-dose Janssen viral vector vaccine regimen,” the researchers wrote. “Although the Janssen vaccine had lower observed vaccine effectiveness, one dose of Janssen vaccine still reduced risk for COVID-19–associated hospitalization by 71 percent.” The study included 3,689 patients. Overall, 2,362 (64 percent) were unvaccinated; 476 (12.9 percent) were fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine; 738 (20 percent) were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 113 (3.1 percent) were fully vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine. Among all participants, the median age was 58 years, 48 percent female, 23 percent non-Hispanic Black, and 18 percent Hispanic. Efficacy for the Moderna vaccine was 93 percent at 14 to 120 days (the median equaled 66 days) after receiving the second vaccine dose and 92 percent after 120 days (with the median equaling 141 days). For Pfizer-BioNTech, efficacy stood at 91 percent at 14 to 120 days (the median equaled 69 days) after receiving the second vaccine dose but declined significantly to 77 percent at more than 120 days (the median equaled 143 days). The postvaccination antibody analysis included 100 healthy volunteers, 32 fully vaccinated with Moderna, 51
President Joe Biden applauded the work of the Congressional Black Caucus and called for ending systemic racism during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Phoenix Awards. The awards closed out the week-long Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. “I got here just a year after the Black Caucus started, 50 years, and the Black Caucus has gotten stronger every year with a powerhouse of ideas and a training ground for a lot of great leaders,” President Biden remarked. “The CBC has made a difference, and as we emerge from this pandemic, the time is right to root out systemic racism. The time is now for a moral response to heal the soul of this nation and to ensure that Black Americans are fully dealt into the economy, and to this society, they have built and shaped for centuries.” Hosted by actress Angela Bassett, the Phoenix Awards recognizes extraordinary contributions to the Black community and featured Stacey Abrams, Ledisi, and others. Singer Chaka Khan closed out the awards with her hit song, “I’m Every Woman.” The conference also acknowledged the largest Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) class to date. “The conference programming reflect[ed] our charge for 2021 and beyond to a continued commitment to uplifting, empowering and mobilizing Black communities through the theme of ‘Black Excellence Unparalleled: Pressing Onward in Power,’” CBCF officials noted. The conference featured thought leaders, legislators, and concerned citizens who engage in economic development, civil and social justice, public health, and education. CBC Chair Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) opened the conference with honorary co-chairs Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Maryland) and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware), CBCF Chair Lori George Billingsley, and CBCF President Tonya Veasey. Sessions included “Re-envisioning Liberation for the Global Black Diaspora” and “Real Talk: Conversations about Family Caregiving in the Black Community,” featuring Melanie Campbell, president, and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable. The conference also tackled “The Impact of Covid-19 on Black Businesses: One Year Later,” where panelists discussed the racial wealth divide. “Black businesses continue to experience the downside of navigating a pandemic and
In the spirit of the “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policy we have historically seen displayed on many businesses, many employers are making it clear to their vaccine hesitant staff that “no vaccine” can and will equate to “no jobs.” From hospitals, to airlines and, most recently, to the city of Houston, employers are letting staff know that it is imperative to be vaccinated in order to remain on the roster. And despite the pushback and lawsuits, businesses are not budging. The first local hospital system to take a stand was the Houston Methodist system, requiring all of its employees to get vaccinated or face termination. After that, others followed, including Baylor College of Medicine, recently announcing that faculty and staff were required to be COVID-19 vaccinated by Sept. 15 or face disciplinary action. Hospital officials said there will be exceptions, however, for certain medical and religious beliefs. As for those helping us to safely fly the friendly skies, Delta Air Lines will charge employees on the company health plan $200 a month if they fail to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a policy the airline’s top executive says is necessary because the average hospital stay for the virus is costing the airline $40,000. CEO Ed Bastian said that all employees who have been hospitalized for the virus in recent weeks were not fully vaccinated. Bastian said that 75% of Delta employees are vaccinated, up from 72% in mid-July. He said the aggressiveness of the leading strain of the virus “means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100% as possible.” The airline also announced that it also will stop extending pay protection to unvaccinated workers who contract COVID-19 on Sept. 30 and will require unvaccinated workers to be tested weekly beginning Sept. 12, and employees will have to wear masks in all indoor company settings effective immediately. United Airlines will require employees to be vaccinated starting Sept. 27 or face termination. Mayor Sylvester Turner signed this week Executive Order (EO 1-71) COVID-19 Mitigation Safety Measures requiring City of Houston employees to test
By: Breonna Randall, Howard University News Service For the first time since March 2020, millions of students, pre-kindergarten to high school seniors, will be attending in-person classes. Aside from attending class, they will be also participating in extracurricular activities, like sports, music and clubs. Parents have many concerns and questions. Howard University News Service reached out to five physicians for answers, Dr. Hadie Shariat, pediatrician, Howard University Hospital; Dr. Katherine Hager, Infectious Disease Fellow, Howard University Hospital; Dr. Catherine Marshall, pediatrician at Balboa Pediatrics; Dr. Andrea Goings, pediatrician, Baby Doc House Calls, and Dr. Stacey Eadie, pediatrician at her own private practice, Peds in a Pod. Should I get my child vaccinated? The unanimous opinion among our doctors was if your child can get vaccinated, they should. The only thing that has proven to be effective so far in fighting COVID-19 is the vaccine, they said. While a tiny fraction of people has died from the vaccine, more than 600,000 have died from the disease. Children under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated, though pharmaceutical companies are working on a vaccine for them. What if my child is too young for the vaccine? In this case, the doctors advise, your child should stay away from unvaccinated adults, stay away from crowded indoor places, always wear a mask and keep practicing social distancing and good hygiene. Also always remember to keep up with your local safety guidelines. Guidelines and prevalence of coronavirus are different in different cities and states. Residents may need to be more careful in some locales. What kind of mask should my child wear and how many do they need? The readily available blue and white surgical masks are the best option for students of all ages. They will protect your child if they are wearing them properly. The mask should cover their nose and their mouth. If the mask falls to the ground or gets wet either by sneezing into it or from water, they should be discarded, and a new mask put in place. Younger children should carry about a half a dozen surgical masks
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent @StacyBrownMedia NNPA NEWSWIRE — In an exclusive telephone conversation from his hospital bed on Sunday, August 22, the renowned civil rights leader expressed his ongoing support for vaccinations while explaining why his wife, Jacqueline, had not received the vaccine. “I have had both my shots,” Rev. Jackson said in the telephone call from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “My wife did not receive the vaccine because she has pre-existing conditions that were of concern.” Jackson maintained the importance of vaccination, noting that there are more stringent variants of the coronavirus. While he and his wife remain hospitalized in a Chicago hospital after positive Covid tests, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Black Press that he remains vigilant in fighting for freedom, justice, and equality. In an exclusive telephone conversation from his hospital bed on Sunday, August 22, the renowned civil rights leader expressed his ongoing support for vaccinations while explaining why his wife, Jacqueline, had not received the vaccine. “I have had both my shots,” Rev. Jackson said in the telephone call from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “My wife did not receive the vaccine because she has pre-existing conditions that were of concern.” Jackson maintained the importance of vaccination, noting that there are more stringent variants of the coronavirus. He said he and Jacqueline are receiving the “best of care.” The telephone call came just one day after his organization, the Rainbow Push Coalition, revealed the positive tests and hospitalization. The call included National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., a longtime friend and comrade in the fight for civil rights. Both disciples of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Jackson, and Dr. Chavis expressed concern that some media members would exploit Jackson’s positive tests. Jackson issued a reassurance of his strength. “I’m doing fine,” Rev. Jackson insisted. “My wife is here, and she’s being cared for.” Though he’s battling Parkinson’s disease and now diagnosed with Covid, Rev. Jackson’s voice appeared strong. He said his battle for freedom, justice, and equality would continue. “He’s a fighter, a warrior,” Dr.