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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Many Muslim health care workers in the U.S. have been observing the fasting required during the holy month of Ramadan, despite the demands of treating coronavirus patients.

What they're saying: Aasim I. Padela, an emergency medicine physician at the University of Chicago Medical Center, told Axios some frontline health care workers, like those in New York, were concerned that they might risk dehydration with added PPE.

  • "It's an individual decision to break the fast and say 'I’m going to make it up later,'" he said.

The big picture: Muslim health care workers routinely have balanced the stress of everyday life with fasting for Ramadan. This year the highly infectious virus continues to overwhelm emergency rooms and intensive care units.

  • More than 10% of pharmacists, clinical laboratory technicians and doctors in New York City are Muslim, according to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
  • A 2012 study estimates there are more than 50,000 Muslim physicians in the U.S.

Marium Husain, a fellow in hematology and oncology in Ohio, told Axios that hearing that doctors in New York were fasting this year inspired her to do the same.

  • "They are portraying the best of what Muslims are supposed to be. ...They have even more grueling schedules. ... So if I can fast in solidarity with them, that's what motivated me to do the whole month."
  • "The pandemic has made it stressful to make sure we don't transmit the virus to our families, that we make sure we can fast safely, but all with the ultimate goal to do our jobs, which is take care of people. That is our main intention, as this is how we serve God, too.
  • "Fasting just makes us realize God even more and our responsibility as Muslims and Muslim healthcare providers."

Another important aspect of Ramadan is social. The holiday presents an opportunity each night to meet up with friends and family to celebrate breaking the fast, but the global pandemic this year has forced Muslims to set those anticipated gatherings aside.

  • Padela said he was able to have a "much more family spiritual experience" this year because of the coronavirus. With mosques being closed, he has found himself spending more time at home with his wife and children, which has given the family time to pray together.

Go deeper: Coronavirus upends Ramadan celebrations and traditions

Go deeper

Updated Nov 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. to mandate vaccines for anyone who crosses borders starting in January — Shots lagged data by months — The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort.
  2. Health: The Thanksgiving bouncers — Axios-Ipsos poll: Thanksgiving roulette — Experts criticize CDC's language on vaccine boosters — America's Thanksgiving gamble.
  3. Politics: Biden administration asks appeals court to reinstate vaccine mandate — Michigan recommends face masks for all residents amid surge.
  4. Education: A COVID strategy backfires at schools — Schools across the U.S. offer vaccine drivesBenefits of in-person school outweigh risks, study finds.
  5. World: EU drug regulator recommends Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids — Italy announces new COVID restrictions for unvaccinated people — European health agency urges expanding booster shot access.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Aug 31, 2020 - Health

CDC report on COVID deaths underlines virus' danger

Continental Funeral Home in Los Angeles has been struggling to keep up with the demands of rising death rates during the pandemic. Photo: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A new Centers for Disease Control report shows 94% of people who died from COVID-19 in the U.S. had contributing health conditions.

Yes, but: Australian epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz noted in a blog post on Monday that the CDC finds COVID-19 was the underlying cause of 95% of all deaths related to the virus. Only in 5% of deaths has it been listed as a contributing cause.