More than a year since the country first shutdown, and the pandemic rages on. Concerns about the spread of the new delta variant prompt a renewed push to boost vaccination rates.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, emphasizes how much the new variant has become a concern because it is easier to transmit and more aggressive than prior versions of the coronavirus.
Although some businesses and public offices maintain mask mandates and social distancing protocols, many local and state governments have removed protections. The rush to open could give the misconception that the pandemic is over.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD OUR APP AND TAKE US WITH YOU ANYWHERE!
“The pandemic isn’t over; the pandemic is shifting,” Nunez-Smith told NewsOne during an interview Tuesday. “And so it is becoming more and more urgent to be vaccinated to be protected from the delta variant and other variants.”
Identified first in India, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has also sounded the alarm about the delta variant. According to the CDC, the delta variant is on track to becoming the dominant version of the cotronavirus in the United States. More than 50% of new COVID-19 cases are the delta variant.
Nunez-Smith explained that besides spreading more easily, the Delta variant could cause a more significant disease.
“We have several communities in the country where Delta is already the dominant version, or strain, of the virus,” Nunez-Smith said. “It makes us take a deep sigh because it does possess the opportunity to threaten the progress that we’ve made as a nation already in terms of COVID-19.”
The best data available shows that current vaccines will protect against the new variant. But persisting disparities in vaccination rates, particularly among young people, remain a concern.
“The reality is unvaccinated people are at risk,” Nunez-Smith bluntly stated. “Taking a gamble with COVID could land you, of course, in the hospital, or worse. But it also can leave you with a month, or even longer of debilitating symptoms, that make it hard for people to work or function and just not feeling well.”
Nunez-Smith also explained that the delta variant is coming for young people in a way not seen with previous virus variations. She said she also wants to disrupt the misconception that COVID-19 is only a threat to older people.
“When we look at the UK, we see that people 12 to 20 are getting hit really hard by Delta,” Nunez-Smith said.
Dr. Rachel Villanueva, the incoming president of the National Medical Association, stressed that hesitancy isn’t the only obstacle. During a recent discussion held by the National Birth Equity Collaborative, Villanueva pointed to ongoing vaccine access issues.
“We know that when we’ve asked people in black and brown communities, they really just want to get more information,” Villanueva explained. “We want to understand what we’re taking. We want to understand what we’re giving to our family members and that it’s safe.”
Created in 1895, the National Medical Association is the oldest organization committed to serving Black doctors and their communities.
“We have access issues,” continued Villanueva. “We need to make sure that the vaccines are getting into the communities that need to get them and not allowing people from other communities to come in and get vaccinated at a higher rate, which we know has been occurring.”
Angela Aina, executive director of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, also noted the need for increased investments in health communications and health care literacy, including equipping community-based providers with the information to answer questions about COVID-19 vaccines and the ongoing nature of the pandemic.
“Our government can be doing more investing back into the public health infrastructure, especially in this arena,” Aina said.
Speaking on rural access issues, Aina noted that many communities do not have easy access to some of the stores that may offer vaccine appointments.
“There’s not easy access to Kroger or to CVS,” said Aina. “A lot of our people are not always easily connected to those venues where the vaccine is currently being distributed.”
In her interview with NewsOne, Nunez-Smith agreed with the expert panel about responding to people’s questions and concerns with good verifiable information and continued public health education about the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and the benefits of vaccination.
She also pointed to efforts like an outreach campaign launched by relatives of those impacted by the Tuskegee experiment. Former Tuskegee Mayor Omar Neal told the Associated Press he wanted to save lives.
“I didn’t want people to use Tuskegee and what transpired there as a reason for not taking the vaccine,” explained Neal.
Neal’s uncle was among the Black men violated by the Tuskegee experiment. But Neal and other relatives want people to understand the history and how it differs from the current moment. This is particularly important as anti-vaccination groups target Black communities with misinformation labeled as proof of “medical apartheid.”
Asking questions is important. But once people have the information, Nunez-Smith advocates for an each one, teach one kind of approach to sharing good verifiable information and experiences with getting vaccinated.
“You got to get out, and you got to testify about it,” Nunez-Smith said.
Prayers Up: Notable Black Folks Who Have Contracted COVID-19
1. Gil Bailey, radio pioneer1 of 73
2. Usain Bolt, Olympic gold medalist
2 of 73
3. Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta mayorSource:Getty 3 of 73
4. Jaylen Brown, NBA playerSource:Getty 4 of 73
5. Herman Cain, former presidential candidateSource:Getty 5 of 73
6. Nick Cannon, entertainerSource:Getty 6 of 73
7. Ben Carson, former HUD SecretarySource:Getty 7 of 73
8. Cedric Ceballos, former NBA player
8 of 73
On my 10th day in ICU, COVID-19 is officially kicking my but, I am asking ALL family, friends , prayer warriors healers for your prayers and well wish for my recovery.— Cedric Ceballos (@cedceballos) September 7, 2021
If I have done and anything to you in the past , allow me to publicly apologize.
My fight is not done…..
9. Dave Chappelle, comedianSource:Getty 9 of 73
10. Rep. Bonnie Watson ColemanSource:Getty 10 of 73
11. Eugene Daniels, journalist
11 of 73
🧵🧵So today is my 11th day since testing positive for COVID-19. And let me tell you -- it was HELL. I am fully vaccinated and it knocked me on my ass. I had chills, a scary high fever, night sweats, trouble breathing, extreme exhaustion, and the terrible cough.— Eugene Daniels (@EugeneDaniels2) September 23, 2021
12. Jacob Desvarieux, guitaristSource:Getty 12 of 73
13. Manu Dibango, musicianSource:Getty 13 of 73
14. Dennis Dickson, NYPD employee14 of 73
15. Kevin Durant, NBA starSource:Getty 15 of 73
16. Larry Edgeworth
16 of 73
Prayers to the family of NBC’s Larry Edgeworth 💔🙏🏽 and my former colleagues at 30 Rock. He died after testing positive for #coronavirus. Larry would always offer to help me ...even after I moved to CBS. He just wanted to see another brother win. #IAmMyBrothersKeeper Rest 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/TyXbiHs30d— DeMarco Morgan (@DeMarcoReports) March 20, 2020
17. Kenneth "Babyface" EdmondsSource:Getty 17 of 73
18. Idris and Sabrina Dhowre Elba
18 of 73
This morning I tested positive for Covid 19. I feel ok, I have no symptoms so far but have been isolated since I found out about my possible exposure to the virus. Stay home people and be pragmatic. I will keep you updated on how I’m doing 👊🏾👊🏾 No panic. pic.twitter.com/Lg7HVMZglZ— Idris Elba (@idriselba) March 16, 2020
19. Patrick Ewing, basketball legendSource:Getty 19 of 73
20. Ronald Fenty, Rihanna's dadSource:Getty 20 of 73
21. Vivica A. Fox, actressSource:Getty 21 of 73
22. Cori "Coco" Gauff, tennis starSource:Getty 22 of 73
23. Jimmy Glenn, legendary boxing trainerSource:Getty 23 of 73
24. Rudy Gobert
24 of 73
25. Louis Gossett Jr., actor, philanthropistSource:Getty 25 of 73
26. Lee Green, former college hoops star
26 of 73
It is with much sadness to inform all in my SJU family that we lost Lee Green to Covid-19 today. A Parade All-American who played 3 years at #SJUBB Lee was our warrior on those teams. A true lock em up defender that relished shutting down the best opponents. RIP Lee🙏🏻 #gone2soon pic.twitter.com/X4TIPbVvoU— Ron Linfonte (@SJU5) March 24, 2020
27. Charles Gregory, Tyler Perry's makeup artrist
27 of 73
28. Lewis Hamilton, Formula One driverSource:Getty 28 of 73
29. Samuel Hargress Jr., owner of legendary Harlem nightclub
29 of 73
Thank You for your friendship Sam! 💔#RIP💔 Harlem's Paris Blues Jazz Club has been a celebrated local music joint since 1969, playing live jazz and blues nightly. It's owner and manager, Mr. Samuel Hargress Jr., has been in the club nearly every day for the past 51 years. 💫🔥💫 pic.twitter.com/oSM9Cbzzdb— B Michael (@bmichaelAmerica) April 15, 2020
30. Conan Harris, Rep. Ayanna Pressley's husbandSource:Getty 30 of 73
31. Antoine Hodge, opera singerSource:GoFundMe 31 of 73
32. Mike Huckaby, techno music pioneer and DJ
32 of 73
R.I.P Mike Huckaby. You will forever continue to change so many peoples lives with your music, technique and mentoring. These clips of Huck are from ‘Detroit The Blueprint Of Techno’ 💔 pic.twitter.com/8t8c83Uy2K— Dark Entries Records (@darkentriesrecs) April 25, 2020
33. Callum Hudson-OdoiSource:Getty 33 of 73
34. DL Hughley, comedian34 of 73
35. Ahmed Ismail Hussein, Somali singer
35 of 73
BREAKING: One of Somalia’s greatest artists has died in London after contracting Corona Virus. Ahmed Ismail Hussein “Hudeydi” known as the “King of Oud” has been in hospital for four days. He was 92. pic.twitter.com/iCii8vYVVv— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) April 8, 2020
36. Jesse and Jacqueline JacksonSource:Getty 36 of 73
37. Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler
37 of 73
Tonight on @fox5dc at 10p -— Shawn Yancy (@ShawnYancyTV) May 20, 2020
He served at the pleasure of 11 U.S. Presidents... during his 55 years at the White House.
Last weekend, he passed from COVID-19.
My exclusive interview with the granddaughter of White House butler, Wilson Jerman is next! pic.twitter.com/SBiXbQLiud
38. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, actor
38 of 73
39. Paul Johnson, house music DJSource:Getty 39 of 73
40. Jim Jones, rapperSource:Getty 40 of 73
41. Brad "Scarface" JordanSource:Getty 41 of 73
42. DeAndre Jordan, NBA starSource:Getty 42 of 73
43. Tim Lester, NFL starSource:Getty 43 of 73
44. James Mahoney, pulmonologist
44 of 73
Dr. James Mahoney at University Hospital of Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/SXBxNlzApr— Lieutenant Kijé (@BrianLemaire2) May 19, 2020
45. Ellis Marsalis Jr., musicianSource:Getty 45 of 73
46. DeRay McKesson, activistSource:Getty 46 of 73
47. Von Miller, NFL starSource:Getty 47 of 73
48. Nicki MinajSource:Getty 48 of 73
49. Donovan Mitchell49 of 73
50. Wisconsin Rep. Rep. Gwen MooreSource:Getty 50 of 73
51. Lloyd Porter, small business owner in Brooklyn
51 of 73
Devastated to hear Lloyd Porter has pass away from covid19. Lloyd was a pillar in Brooklyn. His coffee shop Breadstuy is where I met some of my closest friends. He sometimes hired people with records that couldn't easily find work. He believed in community. Rest well Brother— Blitz Bazawule (@BlitzAmbassador) May 7, 2020
52. Charley Pride, country music legendSource:Getty 52 of 73
53. Biden Adviser, Rep. Cedric RichmondSource:Getty 53 of 73
54. Arnie Robinson Jr., Olympian
54 of 73
Arnie Robinson Jr., who won the gold medal in the long jump at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, died on Dec. 2 at his home in San Diego. He was 72. https://t.co/lYnpSbWkzO— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) December 16, 2020
55. Chris Rock, actor and comedianSource:Getty 55 of 73
56. Wallace RoneySource:Getty 56 of 73
57. Marcus Smart57 of 73
58. Shaka Smart, University Of Texas Men's Basketball CoachSource:Getty 58 of 73
59. Troy Sneed, gospel singerSource:Getty 59 of 73
60. Sage SteeleSource:Getty 60 of 73
61. Oliver "DJ Black N Mild" Stokes Jr.
61 of 73
New Orleans bounce DJ and radio personality Black N Mild has died after testing positive for coronavirus. For the past 25 years, he also deejayed at countless clubs, parties and other private events across the southeast. pic.twitter.com/2e6mnKhiXQ— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) March 21, 2020
62. Michael Strahan, 'Good Morning America' host, former NFL starSource:Getty 62 of 73
63. Carole Sutton, actressSource:Getty 63 of 73
64. Chucky Thompson, music producer, 53Source:Getty 64 of 73
65. Jeffrey "DJ Jazzy Jeff" Townes65 of 73
66. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coachSource:Getty 66 of 73
67. Karl-Anthony Towns, NBA starSource:Getty 67 of 73
68. Jo Thompson, singerSource:Getty 68 of 73
69. Karl-Anthony Towns' parents, Jacqueline Cruz and Karl-Anthony Towns Sr.69 of 73
70. Juan Williams, Fox News HostSource:Getty 70 of 73
71. Wendy Williams, talk show hostSource:Getty 71 of 73
72. Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham, AlabamaSource:Getty 72 of 73
73. Zumbi, rapperSource:Getty 73 of 73
The Delta Variant Is On The Move: The Pandemic Isn’t Over, It’s Shifting was originally published on newsone.com