A Quick Thank You + 10 Inspiring Pandemic Stories For the New Year

Here's how Black people have remained trailblazing, radical, and resilient throughout 2020.

Speak Patrice Presents: Coronavirus News for Black Folks is an independent newsletter that aims to empower our community by sharing coronavirus (COVID-19) news and stories as they relate to the Black Diaspora. We have 2,627 subscribers as of December 31, 2020. Please consider (1) clicking that itty bitty ❤️ at the top of this email next to my name to “like” us, (2) subscribing, and (3) supporting this newsletter by sharing it with your friends and family.

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Nine months later…

A post shared by Patrice 👩🏾‍🚀 (she/her) (@speakpatrice)

As we head into the new year, I wanted to thank you for subscribing to and supporting me and the Coronavirus News for Black Folks newsletter. Whether you read, shared, wrote about the newsletter (or all of the above), your engagement has helped raise awareness about how and why the coronavirus disease and pandemic disproportionately impacts the Black community.

I know first-hand how overwhelming the 24-hour news cycle can be, especially in a year like 2020, so I appreciate you making room in your email inbox to read and reflect on my writing and that of so many other kick-ass journalists and writers who dedicated their time and effort (and often mental health) to covering racism, racial disparities and inequities, disease and death, as well as highlighting communities, organizations, and individuals providing innovative and underreported solutions.

Thank you to all of the journalists, editors, and producers who’ve featured Coronavirus News for Black Folks in your work and amplified the work and mission at your own media outlets, including CNN, CBSN, Nieman Lab, ATTN, Blavity, Black Enterprise, The Beat WUVS-LP. Same goes for those who reached out to me directly, offering me opportunities to write about the news, issues, and communities explored in this newsletter at their own publications—folks like Adriana Lacy, the first person who reached out to interview me about the newsletter for her own, George McCalman, the artist and creative director who cold pitched me an idea that evolved into a 12-page WIRED feature story (pictured above), CNN producer Diane Kaye and anchor Brian Stelter for the Reliable Sources interview, and Saahil Desai, the associate editor who invited me to reflect on reaching 50,000 Black deaths this month for The Atlantic. And a special thank you to journalist Clydeen McDonald for having helped me in this solo adventure for two months as the contributing global editor.

Seeing so much interest in spotlighting this kind of journalism, particularly a project focused on revealing so many uncomfortable realities, has inspired me and reinforced my hope, not only in this industry, but in the world too.

In true end-of-year style, I’ll wrap things up with a list. Here are 10 stories that reveal how Black people have remained trailblazing, radical, and resilient throughout the coronavirus pandemic:

1. Kizzmekia Corbett, an African American woman, is praised as key scientist behind COVID-19 vaccine

“‘I felt like it was necessary to be seen and to not be a hidden figure so to speak,’ Corbett said. ‘I felt that it was important to do that because the level of visibility that it would have to younger scientists and also to people of color who have often worked behind the scenes and essentially [who have] done the dirty work for these large efforts toward a vaccine.’”

Vaccine Research Center director Dr. Barney Graham and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, discuss research on the coronavirus vaccine with several legislators from Maryland. (Photo by Chia-Chi Charlie Chang/NIH)

2. Caribbean-rooted frontline nurse and doctor lead the nation and get first COVID-19 vaccinations in America

Related: Meet Sandra Lindsay, a nurse in New York City who was the first person in America to get the COVID-19 vaccine

“‘It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,’ said Lindsay. ‘I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic, and so we all need to do our part to put an end to the pandemic,’ she said.”

3. How a Brooklyn Artist Is Making Black Women Her Focus

“They are Black women who work in jobs that the coronavirus pandemic quickly revealed as essential to the functioning of New York City. And they were all drawn by Aya Brown, 24, a Brooklyn artist. They are women who took care of Ms. Brown during a hospital or a supermarket visit. They include janitors, M.T.A. workers, mail carriers and security guards.”

4. More Black people need to be part of Covid-19 vaccine trials. Here's why I participated

“But who signs up for these trials is key. That's a large part of the reason why I wanted to volunteer for this Covid-19 vaccine research -- more Black people and more people of color need to be part of these trials so more diverse populations can reap the benefits of this medical research. I believe in science and I hope my decision to join a trial and my transparency about the process will help more people trust today's medicine.”

5. Baltimore Pastor Sees Long-Term Solution to Food Insecurity: Black Church Farms

Related: It took a group of Black farmers to start fixing Detroit’s land ownership problem

“Christian food ministries are stretching to their limits to meet the needs of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, followed by shutdowns and the subsequent economic crisis, has created an unprecedented demand. Saddleback Church in Southern California has served more than 1 million meals between March and the end of June, with congregation members working more than 10,000 volunteer shifts to feed 165,000 people.”

6. How to Advocate for Yourself During an Emergency Room Visit

“When I think of all of that, I really urge people to preplan. Talk to your doctor; inquire about telemedicine in case you get sick. And if so, know the info and how that is set up. Know where the closest testing facility is. Know what hospitals are near you. Also, if you have to self-isolate, do you have adequate childcare? Being able to plan ahead is the most proactive thing you can do.”

7. 13-year-old Va. boy uses parents' 3D printer to make masks he's now donating

“He also stays up on current events and came up with an idea at his home in Falls Church about helping his uncle and others amid COVID-19 fears. ‘I saw in the news that high-risk patients, people with existing diseases like heart problems and asthma, I thought this would help him,’ says Randolph.”

8. How a program looks to help Black, Latinx chefs run 'pandemic-proof' virtual restaurants

“The pandemic caught many small operators unable to shift to delivery or accommodate online ordering, and some miss potential orders through unmonitored social media accounts, program director Jazmine Long said. ‘As the restaurant industry kept being impacted and mom and pop Black-owned restaurants kept getting hit, it was like 'OK, we have to do something,’’ Long said.”

9. UC Doctor Wants To Get Health Information To Black Community Through New App

“He envisions the app providing information on COVID-19 testing sites, self-screening, and providing resources on testing, general health information, and how to access a health care center if necessary. While the pandemic is the impetus for the project, it's not the only health care need the app will target. Lynch says it will focus on cardiovascular health, too.”

10. Indya Moore on Giving Back to a Trans Community Most in Need During the Pandemic

“It’s been very overwhelming. A lot of people have responded very generously and given upwards of $1,000. But it’s been heartbreaking too. I get DMs from trans teens who are 15 or 17 asking for funds to support their moms or their families. A lot of trans people are afraid of losing housing or can’t pay their cell-phone bill, which is their only connection to their loved ones.”