A sound bite reexamined: 'Pandemic of the unvaccinated'

This summer’s coronavirus resurgence has been labeled a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” by government officials from President Joe Biden on down. The sound bite captures the glaring reality that unvaccinated people overwhelmingly account for new cases and serious infections, with a recent study of government data showing that hospitalization rates among unvaccinated adults were 17 times higher than among those fully vaccinated. But the term doesn’t appear to be changing hearts and minds among unvaccinated people. And it doesn’t tell the whole story, with some breakthrough infections occurring among the fully vaccinated. That's led health officials to recommend a return to masks and a round of booster shots.

Oxygen supplies grow precarious amid COVID surge

The COVID-19 surge is stretching oxygen supplies and sending hospitals scrambling for more ventilators, even as there are signs of hope that the spread of the virus is slowing down in pockets of the U.S. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a hospital recently called 911 after coming within just a few hours of running out of oxygen because they needed an emergency transfer for a patient on high-flow oxygen. The hospital got a shipment later that day, but the experience was a warning to other hospitals, said Dr. Jeffrey Goodloe, the chief medical officer for the EMS system that serves Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The oxygen shortages are yet another sign of the toll that the summer COVID-19 resurgence has taken on the nation's hospital system.

Black US farmers awaiting billions in promised debt relief

There was a time when Black farms prospered. Just two generations out of slavery, by 1910 Black farmers had amassed more than 16 million acres of land and made up about 14 percent of farmers. The fruit of their labors fed much of America. Now, they have fewer than 4.7 million acres. Black farms in the U.S. plummeted from 925,000 to fewer than 36,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest farm census. And only about one in 100 farmers is Black. What happened? They were able to overcome the broken promise of “40 acres and a mule” to the newly freed slaves — a military order, later rescinded. But over the last century, they faced one obstacle after another because of their race. Farmers needed loans to expand, to buy seed, to bridge the time between harvests. But lenders — chief among them, the USDA — often refused to give them money, and often rushed to foreclose. Suppliers and customers undercut them. Laws of inheritance led to the breakup of homesteads. Now the government wants to make amends by providing billions of dollars in debt forgiveness for farmers of color as part of the pandemic relief package. But a judge has put the money on hold in the face of lawsuits filed by white farmers claiming that the program is unfair — reverse discrimination.

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