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COVID-19

California Surgeon General Embraces Idea of NBA Partnership for Vaccination Outreach

“Yes, absolutely. Please tell LeBron James to call me,” Dr. Burke Harris told California Black Media (CBM), referring to one of the league’s most high-profile Black members who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. “I think it’s a wonderful partnership and I am excited for that to happen because we want to use our trusted messengers.”

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Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California Surgeon General

When Dr. Nadine Burke Harris heard that the National Basketball Association (NBA) was discussing educating the African American community about receiving COVID-19 vaccines, she said partnering with the league could be a game-changer in the state of California.

Dr. Burke Harris, the Surgeon General of California, said she would embrace that strategy with open arms.

“Yes, absolutely. Please tell LeBron James to call me,” Dr. Burke Harris told California Black Media (CBM), referring to one of the league’s most high-profile Black members who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. “I think it’s a wonderful partnership and I am excited for that to happen because we want to use our trusted messengers.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on January 18 that the league’s players could use their influence to provide information to African Americans, other ethnic minorities, and the general public about vaccine safety and efficacy. It is something that the NBA is “particularly focused” on, he said.

“In the African American community, there has been an enormously disparate impact from COVID … but now, somewhat perversely, there has been enormous resistance [to vaccinations] for understandable historical reasons,” Silver said. “If that resistance continues, it would be very much a double whammy to the Black community because the only way out of this pandemic is to get vaccinated.”

The Surgeon General, California Dept. of Public Health officials, medical experts, and community leaders joined a Zoom news briefing last week with African American media in the state organized by CBM and the Center at Sierra Health Foundation.

Participants discussed how African American communities can continue to stay safe. They also talked about the state’s plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.

Burke Harris, Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of Los Angeles’ Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, and Shantay R. Davies-Balch, founder of Fresno’s Black Wellness and Prosperity Center, were speakers at the virtual news briefing.  The group stressed the necessity of speeding up statewide vaccinations to reduce hospitalizations and stem the spread of the disease.

Twenty-year-old Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton said he was open to the idea of getting vaccinated for the NBA.

Haliburton, who left Iowa State University after two seasons and entered the 2020 NBA draft, is originally from Oshkosh, Wis., north of Milwaukee. To deal with frigid temperatures, he said getting flu shots before the winter was routine.

“I myself, am just going to listen to the public officials and I plan on getting the vaccine,” Haliburton said. “At a young age, I got all my vaccinations. So, I don’t see any reasons to stop now. Internally, we’ve (Haliburton’s teammates and other players in the NBA) talked about it. There are guys in the league that say they will get it and there are guys that say they won’t. That’s their opinion. I am going to get vaccinated.”

Silver said much of the mistrust about taking the vaccine in the Black community originated from a history of racism and malpractice against Blacks by the country’s medical establishment.

One specific example stands out: the infamous Tuskegee experiment.

In 1932, the United States Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama, began a study to record the natural history of syphilis in hopes of understanding treatment programs for African Americans. It was called the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.”

When penicillin was discovered and become the primary drug for treating syphilis in 1947, subjects were never provided the highly effective medication or a chance to resign from the study. The experiment continued until 1972 when the media exposed that it was still being conducted despite the fact a cure had been available for 25 years. A reporter from The Associated Press investigated the study and broke the news.

Nearly 400 participants in the study, primarily sharecroppers, suffered severe health problems, including blindness, mental illness or death. The study also led to the uncovering of other medical atrocities committed on Black citizens.

Haliburton shared with the media his knowledge of the Tuskegee Study. “I do understand why there is a drawback from some people with everything that has happened in the history of the world and vaccinations,” Haliburton said. “I’ve learned about the Tuskegee study and that crazy situation. I do understand how that can be crazy for African Americans. It’s their choice. It’s their bodies.”

Another medical incursion was Henrietta Lacks and her family. In 1951, without her knowledge and consent, cancer cells were taken from Lacks, a young Black woman with five children from Baltimore, Md. The cells, later called “HeLa,” were used to study the results of toxins, drugs, hormones, and viruses without experimenting on humans.

Lacks died at the age of 31. Reportedly, many medical institutions and related businesses profited from her cells without sharing any of the largesse with her surviving family. Lacks’ case became a focal point of medical ethics, sparking debate about whether researchers should be required to conduct such studies without the subject’s permission.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said over the weekend that Pres. Joe Biden has talked about using pharmacies, community vaccine centers, and mobile units to speed up the process of getting more people vaccinated.

Fauci said there will be a “revving up of the capabilities and implementation of getting larger numbers of people vaccinated,” including, the Black community.

“One of the things that is a concern to me, and the reason why we are putting a considerable amount of effort into it, is to get over the vaccine hesitancy that we see in some segment of the population,” Dr. Fauci said. “Particularly and understandably, the minority population who have some hesitancy and skepticism based on some historical mistreatments. We need to vaccinate, we need to implement it, but we also have to overcome the hesitancy associated with it.”

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Community

Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Serving low-income women with cancer

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Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Logo courtesy Organization's website

 In California, over 1.1 million women have been diagnosed with cancer. About one out of three, nearly 400,000, are low-income and cannot afford care. Over the past 30 years, Charlotte Maxwell Clinic has been supplementing thousands of low-income women’s standard cancer care with complementary therapies that they otherwise would not have been able to afford. Services are provided free of charge.

Studies show that integrative care, including acupuncture, herbs, massage, guided imagery, movement, and nutritional therapies, is vital for an improved quality of life and optimal recovery from cancer and its treatment.

Cancer survivor Claudia C. says, “When I came to CMC…my physical health and emotional well-being were seriously compromised. I was going down, isolated and lost. It felt as if I belonged to a different, less valuable subspecies, more like a human waste…. I find myself beyond words to express my gratitude for the extent that CMC has altered and enhanced the life of my family and me. Thank you, Charlotte Maxwell for making such a real, direct and profound difference in our lives.”

 When almost 4,200 normally scheduled in-person appointments were suspended during the pandemic, CMC continued to provide a virtual lifeline, serving women by offering over 400 group wellness sessions online to aid them in stress management, physical therapy and preventing isolation.

CMC’s Medical Director Dr. Mary Lynn Morales, DAIM, says, “We are looking forward to reopening our clinic in October, as well as building on the success of our online services. The restored in-clinic appointments will reflect COVID-19 prevention protocols and allow us to treat 250 current and new clients who are anxious to resume or start 1-on-1 services in a safe and nurturing environment.”

Cancer survivor Jessica Bates says, “I’ve come to understand it was the doctors who took the cancer out of my body and cured me, but it was all of the practitioners at Charlotte Maxwell Clinic that have helped me to heal.”

Integrating complementary therapies in the cancer treatment and recovery process has been shown to help reduce pain, heal the immune system, reduce the harmful effects of chronic stress and trauma, and build resiliency.

“Low-income women may not be aware of the range and benefits of holistic care as part of their cancer treatment, much less be able to afford it,” says Melbra Watts, CMC’s Executive Director. “They also deserve the opportunity to achieve the highest attainable health during their cancer journey.”

To commemorate its 30th anniversary, CWC is hosting “An Evening of Gratitude for CMC” virtual event from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm on Thursday, October 28, 2021. 

Donations are needed, appreciated and encouraged.  For ticket, donation and sponsorship information, contact Melbra Watts at (510) 601-7660 Ext 224, or mwatts@charlottemaxwell.org.

The awards show and fundraiser, is open to the public and will honor the organization’s co-founders, Sally Savitz, acupuncturist and homeopath, and Gabriella Heinsheimer, MD, former medical director of CMC. It will celebrate the contributions of long-time volunteers and partners. Heartfelt patient testimonials will also be shared.

The emcee for the event is Janice Edwards, award-winning TV talk show host and executive producer of “Janice Edwards’ TV: Bay Area Vista.”

Proceeds from this event will help rebuild and expand vital integrative care services, both in-clinic and via telehealth, to low-income women impacted by cancer and complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Business

City Must Pay Contractors, Businesses, Non-Profits Promptly

By restoring the Prompt Payment Ordinance, local organizations working for Oaklanders will be compensated in a timely manner and can do more work for Oakland as a result.

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Sheng Thao

I have introduced legislation to restore the City of Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance and it will be heard at 1:30 p.m. by the City Council on October 19 because local contractors and local businesses need to be compensated in a timely manner for work they do on behalf of the City.

It’s unacceptable that the city is using the COVID-19 pandemic to delay payment to these local non-profit organizations.  By restoring the Prompt Payment Ordinance, local organizations working for Oaklanders will be compensated in a timely manner and can do more work for Oakland as a result.

In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, then-Interim City Administrator, Steven Falk issued an Emergency Order suspending parts of the City’s codes to give the City the flexibility to navigate the uncertain times.  Few would have guessed then that the world would still be navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic nearly 18 months later. One of the ordinances suspended by the Emergency Order was the Prompt Payment Ordinance.

Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance requires the City to compensate local businesses and contractors executing City grants or contracts within 20 days of receiving an invoice.  This allows local organizations providing services on behalf of the City of Oakland to be compensated in a timely manner and builds trust between these organizations and the city.  Local contractors and businesses provide a diverse set of services to the City, covering areas ranging from trash removal and paving to public safety.

Almost 18 months since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance is still suspended.  Even as City staff have adjusted to working remotely and the City has adjusted to operating during the pandemic, there is no requirement that the City compensate its contractors or local businesses in a timely manner.

Oaklanders can comment at the meeting by joining the Zoom meeting via this link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88527652491 or calling 1-669-900-6833 and using the Meeting ID 885 2765 2491 and raising their hand during the public comment period at the beginning of the Council meeting.

 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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COVID-19

Black Educators Take on Hesitancy as Gov. Newsom Issues COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate

Across California’s 58 counties, about 60% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated. Black people account for about 5.8% of California’s population and 4% of those who have been vaccinated. 

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Man with face mask has a lot of questions and doubts about covid 19 vaccine./iStock

As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on with Black Californians still lagging behind on getting fully vaccinated, leaders in the state, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, are taking steps to push more people to get the shot. It is the most effective way, public health experts say, we will end the global public health crisis. 

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, Newsom signed an executive order late last month to extend telehealth services. Then, last week, the governor also made vaccines mandatory for all students at public and private schools. 

California’s school vaccination mandate will take effect for students enrolled in grades 7 through 12 one semester after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccine for children 12 and older. The mandate will also apply to children under 12 after a vaccine is approved for that age group. 

“The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella – there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19. Today’s measure, just like our first-in-the-nation school masking and staff vaccination requirements, is about protecting our children and school staff, and keeping them in the classroom,” Newsom said. “Vaccines work.

“It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates. We encourage other states to follow our lead to keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Last month, Black educators from around the state met at the Reef Restaurant in Long Beach. One of the items on their agenda was getting to the bottom of why some Black Californians remain reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The event, themed “Vaccine Hesitancy: Understanding the Science and Getting people to Trust It,” was a presentation held during a meeting co-hosted by the California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators (CAASA), along with along with the Los Angeles County Alliance of Black School Educators and the National Coalition.

In the process, participants said they wanted to provide some historical context. 

Lillie Tyson Head, daughter of a survivor of the United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study in Tuskegee, talked about the far-reaching damage caused by the controversial and unethical research project.

“The men were told that they had ‘bad blood’ and that they would receive treatment,” Head said. “They were never told they were in a study and the intent of the study.”

She said the federal government study fostered distrust among African Americans of the health care system. 

“Forty-nine years after the study was exposed and 89 years after the study began, people, particularly in the African American communities, distrust certain medical treatment and medical research.  And they are using this study as reasons for hesitating getting vaccinated or refusing to get vaccinated at all,” Head said.

Dr. Oliver Brooks, chief medical officer at the Watts Healthcare Center, said there are built-in biases in the medical system that contribute to African American skepticism. 

“There are studies showing that African Americans are less likely to get cardiac studies and procedures, stents versus just medication. They get less treatment for pain when they come in with sickle cell and other injuries like femur fractures,” he said. “The mistrust with the medical system is valid. It is a decision based on primarily mistrust of the vaccine and mistrust with the healthcare system.” 

Head also encouraged people to get vaccinated although she acknowledged that she understood why some Black people remain hesitant.

“How fortunate and blessed we are to know about the types of COVID vaccines that are available today,” Head said. “Why then should we deny ourselves getting vaccinated? We all have the opportunity to be informed, receive advice from professionals we trust and understand how we can protect ourselves by getting vaccinated.”

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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