RISE rounds up the latest news concerning COVID-19.

COVID-19 continues to expose existing racial inequality, including death rates for Black Americans

COVID-19 is currently the third leading cause of death for Black Americans, according to new research from the Brookings Institution. Indeed, the report notes that in 2020 more Black Americans will die from the coronavirus than will succumb to diabetes, strokes, accidents, or pneumonia.

Black Americans are more vulnerable because of several pre-COVID-19 conditions, including lower levels of income, higher unemployment, and greater levels of food and housing insecurity, according to the report. That leaves Black families with fewer buffers to absorb economic shocks. The interaction of those disparities contributed to higher COVID-19 mortality for Black Americans. A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) also finds a consistent pattern that people of color bear a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations and may face increased barriers to access testing.

The KFF report said that the findings highlight the importance of how COVID-19 relief and response efforts will address inequities, including distribution of treatments and vaccines once they become available. The authors of the Brookings report called for robust, reliable fiscal policy responses to help reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic on families. “If the economic and public health crisis continues at its current pace, many American families will require such assistance, including a disproportionate share of Black families,” the Brookings report said.

WHO: Young adults have become main spreaders of COVID-19

The World Health Organization said people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are increasingly driving the spread of COVID-19. During a news briefings on Tuesday, Takeshi Kasai, the WHO’s Western Pacific regional director, said the epidemic has changed since it first began seven and a half months ago. There are currently more than 21.5 million confirmed cases across the globe and more than 760,000 people have died. Many of those infected have mild symptoms or none at all, and unknowingly pass on the virus to others, increasing the risk to those most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill. “We must redouble efforts to stop the virus from moving into vulnerable communities,” he said.

KHN: PPE shortage could last years without a strategic plan

Shortages of personal protective equipment and medical supplies could persist for years without strategic government intervention, officials from health care and manufacturing industries told Kaiser Health News. The logistic challenges continue as the United States prepares for the flu season and a surge in COVID-19 cases in the fall. The rolling shortages include specialized beds, disposable isolation gowns, and thermometers. Supply challenges could persist throughout 2021 and even 2022, according to the publication. “If we had a more coordinated response with a partnership between the medical field, the government, and the private industry, it would help improve the supply chain to the areas that need it most,” Bernard Klein, M.D., chief executive of Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, California, near Los Angeles, told the publication.