COVID-19 Updates from March Until Now
In the wake of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic that began in 2019, Breathe California Sacramento Region sought to share public health and air quality related news and studies about the pandemic. We’ll be updating this blog on a regular basis with a selection of stories in which they offer comments and context.
Notice: Some COVID-19 information shared below is from past Breathe newsletters and may be out-of-date. Please refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for regularly updated information.
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- Disparities In Outcomes Among COVID-19 Patients in a Large Health Care System in California (Health Affairs)
This study of 1,052 COVID-19 patients treated at Sutter Health hospitals in California found that Black patients had 2.7 times the odds of hospitalization as non-Hispanic white patients, indicating more severe disease.
- Firefighters Will Attack Blazes Quickly to Avoid Coronavirus (Scientific American)
Although fire fighters occasionally let wildfires burn to improve forest health in the long term, they will be more aggressive in fighting fires this year because a fast fire response will limit the need for mass evacuations and encampments.
- Summer Presents Dangerous Choice: Swelter in Quarantine or Risk Contagion (Scientific American)
Extreme heat is deadly to many of the same populations that are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Now, with heat wave season swiftly approaching, public health experts are urging cities to think carefully about how to protect vulnerable populations as the pandemic continues.
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 Case Surveillance (The Center for Disease Control)
This article examines January-May 2020 data on COVID-19 from across the U.S. Findings include hospitalizations were six times higher and deaths twelve times higher among patients with reported underlying conditions, the most common being cardiovascular disease (32%), diabetes (30%), and chronic lung disease (8%).
- COVID-19 and Health Equity—A New Kind of “Herd Immunity” (American Medical Association)
This study highlights that health care quality and access have a huge effect on whether people in certain communities are more or less likely to have severe symptoms from COVID-19. It highlights the need, and opportunity, to redouble efforts in the US to develop strategies that would enable society to slow and ultimately eliminate the spread of inequities in health.
- Is Your Neighborhood Raising Your Coronavirus Risk? Redlining Decades Ago Set Communities Up for Greater Danger (The Conversation)
This article examines a Denver neighborhood and why it had the highest rate of hospitalization due to Coronavirus. Its location, with highways and industrial areas on all sides, has higher rates of air pollution that can increase the risk of serious respiratory problems. Read this article for more information on the connection between city planning, air pollution and Coronavirus risk.
- Coronavirus Lockdowns May Raise Exposure to Indoor Air Pollution (Scientific American)
Between early March and early May, levels of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds increased indoors by 15-30% in more than 1,000 homes across several European countries. This article seeks to explain the spike and share advice on how to improve your indoor air quality.
- This Year’s Forest Fire Season Could Be Even Deadlier (Foreign Policy in Focus)
Governments grappling with public health and safety during COVID-19 are rolling back enforcement of environmental protections that are crucial for preventing wildfires, protecting lives, and limiting deforestation. Environmental enforcement has continued to drop during the pandemic, with preliminary estimates of rain forest loss up by 50% in 2020 compared with last year, according to government data in Brazil.
- The Color of Coronavirus: COVID-19 Deaths By Race and Ethnicity in the U.S. (American Public Media Research Lab)
While we have an incomplete picture of the toll of COVID-19, the existing data reveals deep inequities by race, most dramatically for Black Americans. Data from this study reveals that “the latest overall COVID-19 mortality rate for Black Americans is 2.4 times as high as the rate for whites and 2.2 times as high as the rate for Asians and Latinos.”
- ‘Crazy Bike Boom’: Coronavirus Pandemic Creates Sharp Rise in Bicycle Demand Across US (The Sacramento Bee)
The bicycle business is booming across the country as Americans look for new ways to exercise and get out of the house while adhering to stay-at-home orders. Cycling provides a safe way to run errands, get to work, exercise or de-stress. Especially in Sacramento cycling is becoming a way to abide by social distancing, breathe fresh air and support local business.
- Free Food Resources in California (Los Angeles Office of the Controller)
If you or someone you know is struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic, because of limited access to grocery stores or loss of income, this map includes 1,800+ food banks, food pantries and food distribution centers across the state of California. Enter your zip code and find where you, your family or friends can receive help.
- ‘Big Tobacco’ Using COVID-19 Messaging and Influences to Market Product (PR Week)
An analysis from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids on social media and influencer posts found evidence of tobacco companies using #StayAtHome and giveaways, including branded masks, to market e-cigarettes, vapes and other heated tobacco products.
- Temporary Reduction in Daily Global CO2 Emissions During the COVID-19 Forced Confinement (Nature Journal)
Government policies during the pandemic have drastically altered patterns of energy demand around the world. Closing international borders and shelter-in-place orders have reduced transport and changed consumption patterns. This report compiles government policies and activity data to estimate the decrease in CO2 emissions during the pandemic.
- For more: Rob Jackson, Professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University, explains the drop of CO2 here.
- The Dual Risks of Natural Disasters and COVID-19 (Science X)
What happens when crises occur simultaneously? This article examines emergency responses for many natural disasters, like wildfires, and how they pose risks to public health during a pandemic.
- Including the True Value of Nature When Rebuilding Economics After Coronavirus (Nature Journal)
Financial institutions are becoming more aware of the grave importance of ecological stability during these uncertain times. This article reflects on how economies can prioritize sustainability as they rebuild.
- Smoking Makes COVID-19 Worse: UCSF Analysis Finds a Near Doubling in Risk of Disease Progression (UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education)
This article highlights the truth of how smoking doubles your risk for severe COVID- 19 symptoms. Stanton Glantz PhD, debunks myths around smoking and explains why smoking increases risk for the virus.
- How Climate Change is Contributing to Skyrocketing Rates of Infectious Disease (ProPublica)
From the article, ‘A catastrophic loss in biodiversity, reckless destruction of wildland and warming temperatures have allowed disease to explode. Ignoring the connection between climate change and pandemics would be “dangerous delusion,” one scientist said.’
- WHO Statement: Tobacco Use and COVID-19 (World Health Organization)
From the statement, “A review of studies by public health experts convened by WHO on April 29, 2020 found that smokers are more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, compared to non-smokers.”
- For Native Americans, COVID-19 is ‘The Worst of Both Worlds at the Same Time’ (Harvard Gazette)
From the article, “With tribal businesses halted and their services in peril, the economic impact of COVID-19 on Native American communities could be devastating.” Native American communities are losing their only source of income in order to protect their people and land during pandemic.
- Global Energy Review 2020 (International Energy Agency)
The uncertainty surrounding public health, the economy, and energy over the rest of 2020, is greatly affecting the way we plan for the future. This energy analysis not only charts a possible path for energy use and CO2 emissions in 2020 but also highlights the many factors that could lead to a variety of outcomes.
- Stopping Deforestation Can Prevent Pandemics (Scientific American)
Destroying habitats makes viruses and other pathogens more likely to infect humans. Three quarters of the emerging pathogens that infect humans leaped from animals indigenous to the forest habitats that are being slashed and burned to create land for crops, including biofuel plants, for mining and housing.
- Green Recovery Can Revive Virus-Hit Economic and Tackle Climate Change (Reuters)
Top U.S. and British economists say that green public investment would be the most cost-effective way both to revive virus-hit economies and strike a decisive blow against climate change. Read this study for an in-depth look into the goal to “build back better.”
- How a Warming Climate Could Affect the Spread of Diseases Similar to COVID-19 (Scientific American)
A hotter planet could change the relationship among infectious agents, their hosts and the human body’s defense mechanisms. These changes could include the adaptation of microbes to a warming world, changes in how viruses and bacteria interact with their animal hosts, and a weakened human immune response.
- Promoting Food Donation During COVID-19 (Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School)
COVID-19 has placed additional stress on food systems and exacerbated hunger in the US. Food banks and other food recovery organizations that rescue safe, surplus food and redirect it to those in need are crucial during a crisis.
- When Confronting a Pandemic, We Must Save Nature to Save Ourselves (Center for American Progress)
Alongside investments in epidemiological research and healthcare, we need to address the problem at its root: the destruction of nature. Halting the destruction of natural areas and creating more parks and open space near communities are just two ways to address the nature crisis. Read this well-researched article for more.
- COVID-19 Exacerbating Inequalities in the US (The Lancet)
COVID-19 does not affect everyone equally. In the US, it is exposing inequities in the health system. Read this in-depth report on the disparities between different people in urban areas and how lower income leads to severe COVID-19 symptoms.
- Reduce Your Risk of Serious Lung Disease Caused by Coronavirus by Quitting Smoking and Vaping (UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education)
Director for Tobacco Research Control & Education at UCSF, Stanton A. Glantz PhD, shares valuable information on how vaping and smoking significantly increases risk for severe coronavirus symptoms.
- People Need to be Informed, But Not Afraid (American Public Health Association)
To help counteract the pervasive misinformation and confusion surrounding COVID-19, APHA has been giving expert commentary and background.
- Analysis: Coronavirus Set to Cause Largest Ever Annual Fall in CO2 Emissions (Carbon Brief)
UK-based Carbon Brief estimates that a 5.5% drop in global emissions due to COVID-19. Read this study to see what that means for lung health, the economy and the long-term fight against climate change.
- Smoking is Associated with Doubling of COVID-19 Progression Risk (UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education)
- Air Pollution Linked with Higher COVID-19 Death Rates (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
- COVID-19 and African Americans (The American Medical Association)
- California Smokers’ Helpline Offers Free Nicotine Patches (UC Davis Health)