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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Stanton Sharpe/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A complex public undertaking like the coronavirus response depends a lot on public trust. But a legacy of systemic racism across multiple institutions has eroded that trust in many minority communities.

The big picture: Health care has its own sordid history, from the Tuskegee Study to hospitals' patient-dumping practices to substandard care for black mothers and babies.

  • Consequently, minorities — especially black people — tend to trust health care providers less than white people do.
  • In a Pew survey earlier this month, just 35% of black respondents said they had a great deal of trust in medical scientists, compared to 43% of white respondents. Pre-coronavirus surveys found similar results.

Between the lines: Researchers also have found that a negative experience with one institution, such as the police, often translates to distrust of another, such as health care.

  • A robust system of testing, disease surveillance and isolation — the recipe to keep coronavirus infection rates at bay — requires a lot of buy-in from people who are wary of exactly that kind of undertaking.
  • "How do you do contact tracing in communities that deeply mistrust medical institutions and now sort of are feeling like we're in the fight of our lives because of police brutality?" said Rachel Hardeman, a researcher at the University of Minnesota who studies racism and health equity.

The bottom line: Successfully tracking and isolating the spread of the virus cannot ignore the history of a health care system "that has never really valued [minorities] as a whole person," Hardeman said.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2020 - Health

NIH director: Access to opioid addiction treatment is lagging in the pandemic

Axios' Caitlin Owens and Linda Porter, director of the Office of Pain Policy at the National Institutes of Health.

Opioid overdoses have spiked during the coronavirus pandemic, Linda Porter, director of the Office of Pain Policy at the National Institutes of Health, said on Tuesday during an Axios virtual event.

What's happening: People with opioid-use disorder have had "an extremely difficult time" getting medical treatment or behavioral therapy during the pandemic, Porter said.

Updated 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters, WHO says — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Sep 16, 2020 - Health

Exclusive: First full at-home COVID-19 test

The Gauss/Cellex rapid at-home COVID-19 test. Credit: Gauss

Gauss, a computer vision startup, and Cellex, a biotech company that works on diagnostics, are announcing the first rapid COVID-19 test that can be fully performed by people at home without involving a laboratory.

Why it matters: Experts agree that the U.S. still needs far more widespread testing to help contain the coronavirus pandemic. An antigen test that could be performed and provide results rapidly at home could help reduce testing delays and allow people to quickly find out whether they need to isolate because of a COVID-19 infection.

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