Aug 18, 2020

Axios Vitals

By Caitlin Owens
Caitlin Owens

Good morning.

Today's word count is 1,292, or a 5-minute read.

1 big thing: People of color hurt most by failed coronavirus response
Adapted from Karaca-Mandic, et. al, 2020, "Assessment of COVID-19 Hospitalizations by Race/Ethnicity in 12 States"; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Two new studies yet again reiterate the fact that people of color have borne the brunt of America's coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: The longer we go without improving testing, protecting essential workers, updating ventilation systems, securing nursing homes or ensuring that sick people can safely isolate at home, the more already vulnerable people will continue to suffer.

The big picture: Black and Latino or Hispanic Americans are more likely than white Americans to catch the virus, require hospitalization or die from it.

  • Other minority groups, like American Indians, are also overrepresented in some states — including Arizona, which saw one of the summer's worst outbreaks.
  • White Americans were underrepresented in coronavirus hospitalizations in every state included in a new study published yesterday in JAMA.
Adapted from Bui, et. al, 2020, "Racial and Ethnic Disparities Among COVID-19 Cases in Workplace Outbreaks by Industry Sector"; Note: "Workers of color" are Hispanic/Latino nonwhite workers; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report yesterday supporting the notion that Latino and Hispanic Americans are more likely to become infected at work than white Americans are.

  • As of June 5, the Utah Department of Health had reported 210 workplace coronavirus outbreaks. Hispanic or Latino and nonwhite workers made up 24% of the workforce in the affected sectors, but accounted for 73% of workplace outbreak-associated cases.
  • More than half of these workplace-associated cases were in three sectors: manufacturing, wholesale trade and construction.
  • "Systemic social inequities have resulted in the overrepresentation of Hispanic and nonwhite workers in frontline occupations where exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, might be higher," the authors write.

The bottom line: These disparities stem from deep-rooted racial inequities that are baked into every part of American life, and fixing these will take a long time.

  • But bringing the pandemic under control isn't as hard — almost every other wealthy country in the world has been able to do it by this point. America's decision not to follow suit will continue to deepen its racial wounds until it changes course.
2. We didn't learn our lesson on nursing homes
Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Axios Visuals

Coronavirus cases in nursing homes surged in late July, according to new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Why it matters: Despite all the rhetorical focus on better protecting vulnerable seniors, long-term care facilities continue to be a major source of community spread in the U.S., Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.

By the numbers: Cases in long-term care facilities significantly declined throughout June. But as the hot spots developed across the South flared up, nursing homes again saw a rash of new infections.

  • The U.S. recorded 9,715 cases in one week, primarily from the South.
  • 78% of new coronavirus cases and 69% of COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes are in Sun Belt states, according to a report from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.

The bottom line: "Without adequate funding and resources, the U.S. will end up repeating the same mistakes from several months ago," said Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of AHCA and NCAL.

3. The latest in the U.S.
Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Kristin Urquiza spoke during the Democratic National Convention Monday evening about losing her father to the coronavirus, saying his "only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at the Democratic National Convention Monday evening that the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. a "man-made threat by our own negligence."

The Trump campaign announced it had started selling face masks on Monday, saying President Trump "urges all patriotic Americans to wear a face cover when they are unable to socially distance."

With colleges and grade schools going virtual, marketers are trying to come up with ways to pry consumers' wallets open during the back-to-school season, Axios' Jennifer Kingson reports.

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

India reported 57,981 new coronavirus cases Monday, taking its total number of infections to almost 2.65 million. The country's death toll reached 50,921 after it reported that another 941 people had lost their lives to the virus.

Italy announced it will be re-closing nightclubs and mandating masks in areas with nightlife as the country sees a resurgence in cases after emerging from lockdown, per the Washington Post.

Russia said it will be conducting clinical trials of its vaccine in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to Bloomberg.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a "routine" hospital checkup Monday amid concerns his near-constant work during the pandemic has left him fatigued, Reuters reports. His visit coincided with the country's economy recording its worst decline on record.

5. Democrats fear in-person campaigning, voting
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: 1,141 U.S. adults were surveyed between Aug. 14–17, 2020 with a ±3.1% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Democrats are significantly more concerned than Republicans about the safety of in-person voting and traditional door-to-door campaigning amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Joe Biden's campaign, and Democrats nationwide, are eager to press the case that President Trump has mishandled the pandemic — but the pandemic is also causing Democratic voters to turn away from the tools and traditions that typically form the backbone of a successful campaign, Axios' Sam Baker writes.

The big picture: Democrats are consistently more worried about the coronavirus than Republicans; they rate almost every specific activity or situation as riskier than Republicans do. And that very much includes politics, according to our latest survey.

  • This is a vivid illustration of a challenge Democrats have faced since the spring. The poor response to the pandemic gives them a powerful campaign message, but has also taken away many of the tactical tools they'd normally use to press that advantage.

Regardless of partisanship, Americans see strangers as a much greater coronavirus threat than people they know.

  • 56% of all respondents said coming into a close contact with an essential worker would be a moderate or large risk to their health.
  • By comparison, just 36% said it'd be at least moderately risky to see a family member they don't live with, and just 38% said it would be risky to come in close contact with someone they saw regularly before the pandemic began.
6. UNC forced to abandon in-person classes

Some disappointing news from my alma mater: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will shift to remote learning after clusters of five or more coronavirus cases spread in three residence halls and within a fraternity, just one week after classes began.

The big picture: Universities determined to reopen this fall boasted preventative measures that include smaller class sizes, cleaning protocols and even testing options, but problems still persist, Marisa writes.

  • "After only one week of campus operations, with growing numbers of clusters and insufficient control over the off-campus behavior of students (and others), it is time for an off-ramp. We have tried to make this work, but it is not working," UNC dean of public health Barbara Rimer said in a blog post Monday.

Details: Students were told in an email from UNC that they can cancel contracts with Carolina Housing with no penalty, and that residents with "hardships," like those without reliable internet access, international students or student athletes, can stay if they choose.

Driving the news: Students are now calling out their universities in college media outlets for not preparing for the inevitable and failing to address the potentially-devastating communal spread of COVID-19 in their college towns.

  • "We all saw this coming," the Daily Tar Heel, the school's paper, wrote in an editorial.
7. LBGTQ youth's mental health roadblocks
Data: The Trevor Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

LGBTQ youth say a slew of roadblocks prevent them from accessing mental health services, a new report from the Trevor Project says.

The big picture: Cost was by far the biggest barrier, but respondents also cited a stigma surrounding mental health issues, as well as skepticism about whether they could trust a therapist, Marisa writes.

By the numbers: 54% of LGBTQ youth said they wanted mental health care in the past year but did not receive it.

  • The problem was worse among Black (62%), Latinx (62%) and Asian American (60%) respondents.

What we're watching: These responses were mainly collected before the pandemic, but the pandemic hasn't made anyone's lives easier.

  • "We expect during COVID-19 ... their struggles are going to increase: increased isolation, increased anxiety, and yet they're unable to get the care that might be able to help them to thrive and to do better," said Amy Green, the director of research at the Trevor Project.
Caitlin Owens