A Dose of Reality: How Racism Makes A Pandemic Worse

You might be wondering how you got on the mailing list for this newsletter. Well, it’s because I’ve made the decision to better serve my community by transitioning bruh. (a newsletter you subscribed to a long time ago) into Well-Reported, a space where wellness meets journalism. This shift has been in the works for quite some time but now, more than ever, people need a resource for reliable health news as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. This is still not a daily newsletter. I will never do that to you or myself. I do, however, intend to publish on a weekly or bi-monthly basis—I ain’t figured out which road I’m going to take just yet. But thank you for sticking with me and I hope you’re all taking care of yourselves. 

Everything feels scary and uncertain right now. There are more than 5.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally—a number that some researchers have placed on the low end of reality considering a remarkable lack of testing—and more than 347,000 people have died. At least 99,000 of those deaths have occurred in the U.S. 

It’s a staggering figure. I haven’t been able to truly process that level of grief or the human cost. I float between wondering if I need to be so tuned in, or if it’s possible for me to consume bad news without fully immersing myself. I’m having a tough time striking such a delicate balance but, as my Nana would say, I’ve been doing the best I can with what I got. In an attempt to detach myself from my screens, I’m running three mornings a week now and doing yoga in the evenings. I HIIT train on the off days. This—along with eating the besttttt carb-y foods—has been my predominant way of taking my mind off the frightful things occurring around us, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. 

How are y’all doing though? For the “Well” portion of this newsletter, I wanna know how y’all been taking care of yourselves. Have you been running? Baking bread?! (I made a rosemary loaf and it slapped). Reading more? Long walks? Taking photos? Trying new recipes? Or have you been allowing yourself to do nothing? (A very valid thing to do!) I wanna hear about whatever it is you’re doing in the comment section. Tell me everything, let’s be friends. 

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On a more somber note, this week’s “Reported” portion is a dose of reality, highlighting stories that capture how racism is influencing various outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s evident in all aspects of the outbreak—including who can work from home, who can get tested, who is more likely to be infected and who is most likely to die.

COVID-19 Took Black Lives First. It Didn’t Have To — “Even though many of these victims had medical conditions that made them particularly susceptible to the virus, they didn’t always get clear or appropriate guidance about seeking treatment. They lived near hospitals that they didn’t trust and that weren’t adequately prepared to treat COVID-19 cases. And perhaps most poignantly, the social connections that gave their lives richness and meaning—and that played a vital role in helping them to navigate this segregated city that can at times feel hostile to black residents—made them more likely to be exposed to the virus before its deadly power became apparent.” [ProPublica

The Striking Racial Divide in How Covid-19 Has Hit Nursing Homes — “But Covid-19 has been particularly virulent toward African-Americans and Latinos: Nursing homes where those groups make up a significant portion of the residents — no matter their location, no matter their size, no matter their government rating — have been twice as likely to get hit by the coronavirus as those where the population is overwhelmingly white.” [NYT]

It’s Not Too Late to Save Black Lives — “The medical catastrophe of the pandemic has met the slow-motion disaster of everyday health disparities. Inadequate testing has been a marquee issue throughout the crisis, and that failure is exacerbated in Black neighborhoods where a lack of testing sites is inflamed by residential segregation. Black folks are overrepresented among populations that cannot practice proper physical distancing, that live in densely populated areas or multigenerational homes, work an “essential” job, suffer from food apartheid, or have an illness that worsens outcomes should they contract the coronavirus. They are also more likely to be poor, which can further cause disparate health outcomes. But this doesn’t have to be fatal.” [Slate]

Your post-workout—I literally don’t know what to call this section, just bare with me I guess?—pieces are a bit older, and don’t fit within the theme of this week’s newsletter. But I feel like everyone should take the time to read them in order to better understand government’s response to the pandemic and what happens to a human’s body when a case of Covid-19 goes bad.

How the Coronavirus Became an American Catastrophe — “When its true proportions have been measured, it will make the early government response look even more outrageous than it already seems. What’s happening here, in this country, was avoidable. Nearly every flaw in America’s response to the virus has one source: America did not test enough people for COVID-19.” [The Atlantic

A Medical Worker Describes Terrifying Lung Failure From COVID-19 — “It first struck me how different it was when I saw my first coronavirus patient go bad. I was like, Holy shit, this is not the flu. Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube and out of his mouth. The ventilator should have been doing the work of breathing but he was still gasping for air, moving his mouth, moving his body, struggling. We had to restrain him. With all the coronavirus patients, we’ve had to restrain them.” [ProPublica]


Since Well-Reported is in its infancy, I want to know what y’all would like to see covered in this space as we move forward and grow together. Do you want workout tips or recipes? More comment section prompts like today’s edition? Mental health resources? Let me know:

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