January Roundup: Coronavirus News for Black Folks

Black medical and clergy leaders advocate for greater vaccination participation, the Caribbean region demands equitable and inclusive COVID assistance, a "long-hauler" speaks out and more.

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 2,703 subscribers as of January 26, 2021. 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.


Happy New Year…

This time last year, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus disease COVID-19 an international public health emergency. A few months later, I launched Coronavirus News for Black Folks, hoping to better amplify the stories and voices from my community amid an oversaturated media landscape catering to an overwhlemed (and historically white) audience. Since then, the disease has taken at least 60,741 Black lives in the United States, constituting 16% of all COVID-19 deaths, compared to 13.4% of the population, according to data from the COVID Racial Data Tracker, a collaboration between the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic and the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. But vaccines have also since been developed, distributed, and administered (albeit not in predominantly Black nations) and a new presidency and subsequent COVID-19 task force ushered in, signaling a new chapter of this global pandemic.

What does that mean for this newsletter? While combing through the internet for today’s roundup edition, I found that a majority of the coronavirus news for Black folks focuses on vaccinations and Black communities and the inequities and disparities still facing many Caribbean and Latin American and a number of African nations. This has been the case for the past three months or so, with Black Lives Matter, police brutality, and the 2020 presidential election dominating a majority of the news about Black communities. And so moving forward, this roundup format will become a once a month edition, featuring a curated, comprehensive list of news, commentary, and videos from as wide a range of publications and voices as possible. In between those editions, I plan on offering interviews and other collaborative pieces on a considerate schedule that allows me to mindfully balance both CNFBF and my freelance journalism work at MSNBC, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and beyond.

Thank you for sticking with me as I figure this project out on the fly and for staying subscribed to and supporting this newsletter with your views and shares.

— Patrice Peck, founder (tw/ig)

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OPINION: How to Reassure Black Americans That the Vaccine Is Safe

The New York Times

“LeBron James could tweet about the importance of getting the shot to his 49 million followers. Black social media influencers could post photos of their shots. The “Divine 9” historically Black fraternities and sororities could host a national vaccine stroll encouraging immunizations.”


I’m a COVID-19 long-hauler and an epidemiologist – here’s how it feels when symptoms last for months

The Conversation

“Fatigue is one of the most common persistent symptoms, but there are many others, including the cognitive effects people often describe as brain fog. As more patients face these persistent symptoms, employers will have to find ways to work with them. It’s too soon to say we’re disabled, but it’s also too soon to know how long the damage will last.”

Ohio lawmaker who asked racist question about Black hygiene tapped to lead state health panel


“A GOP Ohio lawmaker who asked a racist question last year about whether ‘the colored population’ was contracting Covid-19 at higher rates because of poor hygiene has been tapped to lead the state Senate's health panel.

State Sen. Stephen Huffman was appointed by Senate President Matt Huffman, his cousin, this month to the position on the committee that reviews legislation about health care and human services despite a racist exchange with a Black health expert in June.”

Black Doctor Dies of Covid-19 After Complaining of Racist Treatment

The New York Times

“In her post, which has since circulated widely on social media, she showed a command of complicated medical terminology and an intricate knowledge of treatment protocols as she detailed the ways in which she had advocated for herself with the medical staff. She knew what to ask for because she, too, was a medical doctor. But that was not enough to get her [the] treatment and respect she said she deserved.”

Black America Has Reason to Question Authorities

The New Yorker

“This doesn’t mean that African-Americans won’t take the vaccine or eventually feel comfortable returning their children to school, but both will require a credible public campaign and the implementation of safety measures that don’t dismiss the Black public’s concerns but, rather, seek to overcome them with trustworthiness, transparency, and accountability.”



South Has High Rate Of Unreported COVID Deaths, Study Says

Georgia Public Broadcasting

“Counties with more African-American residents, who are already at high risk of COVID death based on direct counts, also reported more excess deaths not assigned to the virus, according to the study. The state Department of Public Health, asked to comment on the study Monday, said that it’s difficult to compare how states and regions report COVID deaths ‘due to a lack of a national definition.’”

In D.C., Black families reel from the pain of hundreds lost to covid-19 and killings

The Washington Post

“African Americans in the nation’s capital have always suffered more than Whites during crime waves and economic downturns. But 2020 has been a particularly devastating year for Black D.C., magnifying racial inequalities that were already among the worst in the nation.

Between the coronavirus pandemic and a surge in homicides, nearly 1,000 lives were lost this year in the District. Almost 80 percent have been Black, even though African Americans now make up less than half of the city’s population.”

Black-owned businesses hope this round of PPP won’t fail them


“CDFIs have long played a role in underserved communities. They are credit unions, banks, micro-loan funds, or venture capital providers that provide low-income communities access to financial services. Their communities may trust them more than large financial institutions. CDFIs are also among those given early access to the latest round of PPP loans. When the program reopened on Jan. 11, community financial institutions that work with underserved communities were first in line.”

Many are more comfortable in their bodies during the pandemic. For some LGBTQ people, it's the opposite.

USA Today

"Part of my ways to combat dysphoria is the ability to have control of my body," Bailey, 37, says. "What that means for me is the ability to go out in the world and dress how I want to dress or, even in a sense, create space for myself."


The MTA Has a New Citywide Memorial for Its Workers Lost to COVID-19


“Portraits of MTA workers who’ve died from COVID will be displayed on the screens that normally show maps and service changes, along with a newly commissioned poem, “Travels Far,” by the U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. The memorial will appear within 107 subway stations —about a quarter of the system’s 472 stops—in all five boroughs, and online.”

How Black barbers have become mental health advocates for African American men

The Philadelphia Tribune

“Coronavirus has forced much of its outreach online but has also allowed them new opportunities for growth through an expanded digital presence. The group hosts online training courses, group support calls and individual check-ins for its member barbers to circumvent the lockdowns and social distancing guidelines the pandemic has brought on.”

Descendants of Tuskegee Syphilis Study Survivors Say It Was Nothing Like the Covid-19 Vaccine


“So how can you compare not having something to the opportunity to have something? I can see if some people believe, well, they’re not gonna give it to us anyway or if what they give us may be different than someone else. But that’s not the case either. Because of what happened during the Syphilis Study at Tuskegee, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) was created, and part of that board is responsible for analyzing and approving the Covid-19 vaccine.”

A Covid-19 Relief Fund Was Only for Black Residents. Then Came the Lawsuits.

The New York Times

“‘The idea that, in this case, a lumber company could use the 14th Amendment as a weapon to prevent the descendants of slaves from receiving an economic benefit in a time of disaster is utterly inconsistent with the historical context,’ Mr. Cunningham said.”

Health Care After COVID: Racial Disparities Laid Bare


“While workers and residents at long-term care facilities may be prioritized for vaccines, someone from a minority group may be caring for an elderly relative at home because of lack of access to health insurance and income to pay for long-term care. That caregiver must go out to shop for food, creating similar risks for the elderly relative, but hasn't been designated to have the same vaccine priority, Mays explained.”

‘Inspired Choice’: Biden Appoints Sociologist Alondra Nelson to Top Science Post


“Biden’s selection is an ‘inspired choice’, says Keith Wailoo, a historian of race and health at Princeton University in New Jersey. Nelson’s ‘scholarship on genetics, social inequality and medical discrimination is deeply insightful and hugely influential across multiple fields, most notably because of its focus on excellence, equity and fairness in scientific and medical innovation’…”



MARYLAND—Maryland must do more to get COVID vaccine to African American, LatinX communities: COMMENTARY

MICHIGAN—Gov. Whitmer appoints leader, diverse workgroups for commission on COVID-19 vaccine education

OKLAHOMA—Dozens Line up at Oklahoma City Church for COVID Vaccine

TEXAS—New City-backed podcast helps Austinites ‘pivot’ during the pandemic


In U.K., Concern Grows Over Vaccine Hesitancy Among Minority Groups

The New York Times

“The government said on Monday that it would give 23 million pounds, or about $31 million, to local councils and other groups in England to encourage vaccines among those most at risk from the virus, including minority groups, by trying to combat misinformation and to build trust in the authorities.”

OPINION: Western diaspora, we need to check our privilege when returning home in a pandemic


“It’s imperative that we remember that health care infrastructure in most African countries is much weaker than in the West and that we act accordingly. Everything from where we choose to spend our money, to how we set up businesses to where we buy land must be scrutinised. This way, we can ensure that we’re contributing to African development positively, for the sake of domestic populations and the future diaspora.”

Airlines, Caribbean scramble under virus testing orders

Miami Herald

“The measures are designed to help slow the spread of the virus. But they also risk having U.S. travelers stranded in countries where testing isn't easily accessible, and could further decimate international air travel in a region already struggling to recover from the pandemic's economic fallout. Even more worrisome is the potential burden the new measures might pose on already strained health systems.”

RELATED: These Caribbean islands got the COVID vaccine thanks to other countries

South Africa accuses wealthy nations of hoarding vaccines, as study warns of the economic toll for unequal access

The Washington Post

“No economy can recover fully from the pandemic until vaccines are equally accessible in all countries,” the Paris-based ICC, a global trade and investment body, said in a statement. The report calculated that the global gross domestic product loss of not ensuring equal access to vaccines ‘is higher than the cost of manufacturing and distributing vaccines globally,’ which it put at $27.2 billion.”

RELATED: South African Coronavirus Strain Puts Undertakers on Front Lines

Despite lax rules, COVID-19 claims few lives in Haiti. Scientists want to know why.

The Miami Herald

“In a country of roughly 11 million people, there have been an astoundingly low 234 confirmed deaths related to the novel coronavirus. Across the border in the neighboring Dominican Republic, with roughly the same population, the pandemic has killed almost ten times the number, 2,364.”

U of T researcher launches project to collect data on Black experience with COVID-19

University of Toronto

“‘The data should be transnational because we have shared experiences,’ says Timothy. ‘But it is intersectional as we are looking for respondents from all socioeconomic backgrounds and a trans-generational perspective from various gender identities through a Black feminist perspective.’”

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