Why does coronavirus kill so many African Americans? Should the US society grieve about these deaths or try to learn a lesson? Did all those people die for no reason? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2020), African Americans are overrepresented among hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A Washington Post article published at the beginning of April claims that the prevalence of coronavirus in African American communities is three times the rate of infections and nearly six times the rate of deaths in comparison with white communities (Scott, 2020). The present paper aims at discussing the reasons for such high mortality among African Americans. The analysis demonstrates that a high mortality rate among Black people is explained by the unwillingness of the US government to address the problems of cultural minorities.
The primary factors that affect mortality rates among African Americans are underlying health conditions and discrepancy in access to care. According to the CDC (2020), Blacks have a higher prevalence of chronic diseases in comparison with whites. When the executive of Prince George’s County, which is an African American community, heard that aggravating factors of COVID-19 were high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, she said, “Oh, my God, that is us!” (Nirappil et al., 2020, para. 22). Moreover, African Americans are more likely not to have health insurance and have limited access to care (CDC, 2020). However, even when they are provided with care, it usually of poor quality. On April 3, Mt. Sinai medical workers protested for not having enough protective gear for the medical personnel (Johnson & Buford, 2020). This implies that hospitals serving cultural minorities are not given enough attention and funding.
Such discrepancy in the quality of healthcare had been known about long before the pandemic. CDC (2020) acknowledges that stigma and systemic inequalities are prevalent and contribute to the risk factors of COVID-19. Therefore, coronavirus just made the problems of the healthcare system more apparent to the public. In summary, a high prevalence of chronic conditions, inadequate access to healthcare, low quality of provided care, and lack of health insurance are primary factors that contribute to increased mortality rates among African Americans.
African Americans are more likely to work during the pandemic and contact those of poor health. Black people are more likely to hold essential jobs and continue working during the epidemic (Scott, 2020). Moreover, African Americans are more likely not to be provided with sick leaves, which forces them to work and contact others (CDC, 2020). A video posted by Jason Hargrove on Facebook demonstrates how dangerous it is to work during the pandemic (CNN, 2020). In the video, the bus driver complains about the fact that some people are irresponsible, which puts public workers at an increased risk of death. However, the message sent by the bus driver also reveals another problem that affected the death rates among African Americans.
African Americans were confused about the mixed signals sent by the government. In the video mentioned above, Jason Hargrove complained that the spread of coronavirus was due to the irresponsible behavior of people (CNN, 2020). People in some communities did not know the dangers of COVID-19 and often denied its existence (CNN, 2020). This implies that the government and local authorities failed to provide consistent information about coronavirus to the public, especially in African American communities. If the message was clear to the public, people would be more aware of social distancing and use personal protective gear to stop the spread of the disease. Keneshia Grant, a political science professor at Howard University, confirmed that “mixed messages from the Trump administration and some governors in states with large black populations caused confusion” (Scott, 2020, para. 19). While the problem of mixed messages from the government is not covered in any of the scholarly journals, the opinions of the public and experts are enough to prove the point. In summary, African American communities were hit by the pandemic due to the lack of a consistent message sent by the government.
Living conditions of cultural minorities may also contribute to the risk of dying from coronavirus. According to the CDC (2020), many Black and Hispanic families live in densely populated areas, which increases the number of contacts every day. Moreover, African Americans often live together with older family members, making it difficult to protect them from the virus (CDC, 2020). At the same, African Americans are overrepresented in jails, prisons, and detention centers, which are associated with increased risk of infection (CDC, 2020). The bus driver, who posted the video mentioned above, also lived in a densely populated area of Detroit and died from coronavirus soon after the publication (CNN, 2020). Thus, the disparities in housing contribute to the high mortality rates among African Americans.
Putting together all the four factors mentioned above, it can be concluded that high mortality rates among African Americans are due to the government’s unwillingness to solve the problems of racial minorities. The discrepancy in healthcare quality and access, unresolved housing problems, mixed messages from the government, and poor working conditions demonstrate that instead of focusing on the real issues of people, the government found other priorities. Some local governments were careless to release some nonviolent inmates from jails, which facilitated the spread of the diseases (Nirappil et al., 2020). Some public agencies serving African American communities failed to provide workers of essential industries and healthcare providers with protective gear, which also contributed to the spread of the disease (Johnson & Buford, 2020; CNN, 2020). Thus, it becomes clear that the US government and local authorities are blind to the needs of cultural minorities. The pandemic only made this more apparent due to the high mortality rates among Black people.
The problems of minorities were known long before the pandemic, and the fact that the government did little to address them explains high mortality rates among African Americans. Minorities are more likely to have decreased access to care due to the lack of health insurance or long distance to the nearest facility. Moreover, the quality of care provided by hospitals serving cultural minorities is usually poor. African Americans are forced to work during the pandemic as they are overrepresented in essential industries. African Americans often live together with older members of the family, which also increases the risk of death from coronavirus. Finally, African Americans were sent mixed messages about the dangers of COVID-19, which caused confusion. While the numbers concerning morality rates are alarming, there is hope that the US society will not let the problem go unnoticed.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). COVID-19 in racial and ethnic minority groups. CDC.gov.
CNN. (2020). Bus driver posted angry video about coughing passenger. He died days later. [Video]. YouTube.
Johnson, A., & Buford, T. (2020). African Americans have contracted and died of COVID-19 at an alarming rate. TruthOut.
Nirappil. F., Wiggins, O., & Harden, J. (2020). Record number of covid-19 deaths in D.C., Maryland and Virginia; black residents hit hardest. The Washington Post.
Scott, E. (2020). 4 reasons coronavirus is hitting black communities so hard. Washington Post.
Nature Of Stalin’s Regime In Soviet Russia
Nadezhda Mandelshtam was the wife of one of the most famous Russian poets whom the world lost because of Stalin’s regime. Osip Mandelshtam was one of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Stalinism who died in GULAG. There is much literature on Stalin’s repressions and totalitarianism, but a personal story always seems to be most sincere. Mandelshtam’s memoir forms an understanding of the nature of Stalinism – terror. Everybody was its victim; everybody sought oblivion; everybody stayed silent.
To start, every Soviet citizen was a victim of Stalin’s regime. Russian intelligentsia like Osip Mandelshtam himself was the number one enemy of the regime as those were free people in their minds. However, there were also peasants, ethnic minorities, and even bureaucrats and Stalinism ideologists, as Mandelshtam claims (297). Indeed, the Central Committee existed in a state of constant internal repressions. Victimization of the population was the essential element of Stalin’s regime of terror.
Furthermore, oblivion is described in Mandelshtam’s memoir as a widespread practice (298). As Mandelshtam writes herself, among her generation, “only a very few have kept clear minds and memories” (298). Instead, people immersed themselves in work, so that routine replaced the memories of the terror. It is a sad irony that Stalin’s regime was incredibly proud of its Stakhanovite movement, the people who reached unbelievable results in socialist labor competition were highly praised. In reality, this was a symptom of the common desire to escape the depressing reality of terror.
Finally, terror only survives in silence. People built distance between themselves and the crimes of the regime. Mandelshtam observes the common excuses for such behavior: either it is that people must have been arrested for a good reason or that nobody wanted to do anything with the arrests occurring every night in their buildings (298). Only little girls that she describes had something to say to the regime, as children are the strongest facing fear (520). The silence was the critical element contributing to the stability of that regime.
To conclude, Stalin’s regime was indeed totalitarian as the fear of its terror existed even in people’s minds. All Soviet citizens were victims, no matter what class or any other group they belonged to. As Mandelstam describes it, people found peace only in oblivion and hard work, seeking to lose the memory of this terror. Probably most importantly, everybody preferred to stay silent out of fear.
Mandelshtam, Nadezhda. Hope Against Hope: a Memoir. Atheneum Publishers, 1970.
The Ketogenic Diet As An Effective Treatment Method
Nutrition is an essential part of every process and operation that the human body is a part of. While dieting is an increasingly popular practice among those who would like to get fit, changes in nutrition can be a crucial factor in a system of treatment for patients suffering from severe health conditions. The latest trend includes the Ketogenic (Keto) diet, which is low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and extremely high in fats. The Keto diet serves as a viable treatment option because it can reduce the symptoms of epilepsy, regulate insulin spikes associated with diabetes, and reverse some of the brain damages that are a result of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Science Behind It
The goal of the Ketogenic diet is to get most of the calories from healthful fats rather than carbohydrates. The body gets depleted of its sugar reserves and starts burning fat for energy. Switching the energy fuel from glucose to fat sends the body into a state of ketosis, which impacts insulin regulation, inflammation, and overall energy levels. A number of studies suggest that the Keto diet can be an effective nutrition alternative for patients struggling with obesity, dementia, and mental health issues (Bolla et al., 2019; Liu et al., 2018; Ulamek-Koziol et al., 2019).
Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
Helping with Seizures
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that results in abnormal brain function. It causes seizures, loss of awareness, and unexpected sensations. Unprovoked seizures can be treated with medications and surgery, but sometimes lifelong medical assistance is needed. Doctors first introduced the Ketogenic diet as a supplementary treatment for children with epilepsy in the 1920s. The diet can help reduce the total number of seizures, their intensity, and regularity (Ulamek-Koziol et al., 2019).
Problems start to arise when patients are resistant to anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Apart from surgery and non-traditional medicinal practices, the Keto diet is the only way for them to reduce the severity of seizures and improve their overall condition. Studies have shown that the diet is the best option for drug-resistant epilepsy patients. Chinese researchers examined the efficacy and safety of the Ketogenic diet and concluded that it is, in fact, “a promising treatment for intractable epilepsy in adults” (Liu et al., 2018).
Dietary treatments must always be followed with the support of a professional epilepsy specialist and nutritionist. They do regular follow-ups and usually ask the patient to keep a diary of their seizures, changes in mood, alertness, and actions. To check if the diet is going smoothly and working properly, doctors estimate the patient’s ketone levels. Ketones are chemicals formed when the body uses fat for energy instead of glucose. Patients usually need to add vitamins and minerals to balance out their meals. Switching to sugar-free drugs is required to maximize the effects of the Ketogenic diet.
It is crucial for the total calorie intake of the patient to stay the same. If their metabolic rate is 1600 calories, their daily intake should not go below that number. The Ketogenic diet is not effective while starving or restricting. It is a process of adjusting the menu so that most of the calories (60%) come from fat, 30% from protein, and a limited amount (10%) is allocated to carbohydrates. However, the diet often needs to adapt to specific genetic conditions such as lactose- or gluten intolerance.
Patients with epilepsy often have two main options when it comes to the Ketogenic diet. They can choose between the classic keto diet and the medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) diet. The name is somewhat complicated, but the concept is simple. MCTs are fatty acids that can produce ketones much more easily. The diet allows more variety as less total fat is needed because patients add a supplement of MCT oil to their daily meals. Instead of the strict ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats of the classic Keto diet, the MCT plan is based on the percentage of energy that fats provide during the day. Epilepsy patients may find this particular diet more sustainable and manageable, which can affect their results following a low-carbohydrate nutrition plan.
Even though more flexible diets similar to Keto (Modified Atkins diet, low glycaemic index treatment) gain popularity among celebrities and influencers, it is important to examine the facts. Based on all the recent research and scientific findings, only a combination of the Keto diet and AEDs regulated by a medical professional can have a significant effect on managing the symptoms of epilepsy for both children and adult patients.
Insulin Levels and Weight Loss
It might seem strange that a special diet for type 2 diabetes is based mainly on fat consumption. The exact ratio of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates has the potential to gradually decrease blood sugar levels. Managing carbohydrate intake is not a new concept for professionals specializing in diabetes because carbohydrates are the main source of glucose, which can cause blood sugar spikes. By switching their focus to fat, patients who have diabetes can reduce their blood sugar levels and stabilize their overall condition.
The Ketogenic diet is an effective and safe treatment option for obese patients and those struggling with type 2 diabetes. The research suggests that following the diet can reduce the risk of having diabetes (preventative measures), improve patients’ glycaemic control, and help them lose excess weight and gain muscle (Bolla et al., 2019). Patients also can reduce their need for certain insulin-regulating medications. Type 2 diabetes is studied a lot more, but observational research suggests that patients with type 1 diabetes can greatly benefit from a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet as well.
Lower consumption of carbohydrates regulates and slowly decreases the production of insulin, but it requires close and careful monitoring from a medical professional. Even though the Keto diet is quite straightforward, glucose and ketone levels have to be measured and controlled by a doctor. Once the body finally adjusts and fully gets into ketosis (which can take up from a couple of weeks to about two months), medical tests and adjustments are still required. Like any other form of prescribed treatment, the Ketogenic diet demands a systematic approach and frequent check-ups with a physician.
Despite the diet’s medicinal administration, its popularity among overweight people continues to grow. The Keto diet modifies the body’s usual energy supply system to get the majority of its energy from fat instead of carbohydrates (ketosis). Excess weight influences all the body functions and often leads to serious health conditions. Heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis are among the conditions associated with obesity. Therefore, introducing the Keto diet might be a preventative measure for some. It can help people experience noticeable weight loss and regulate their energy distribution throughout the day.
Patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia often considered a disease of aging. Older people at the age of sixty-five and higher are usually victims of such a condition, but the disease tends to develop much earlier. The symptoms include severe memory loss and a decline in thinking that affect day-to-day tasks. Alzheimer’s is caused by neurons that fail to provide networks for inter-cell communication. As a result, cells cannot communicate properly, which leads to cell death and impaired cognitive abilities. The earliest symptom of the disease is usually memory loss as the cells from the region responsible for learning and memory (hippocampus) are often the first to get damaged. No cure to stop or slow down the progression of the disease has been developed yet. However, there are some drugs and therapies that improve the symptoms. Research continues to examine possible treatment options, but for now, the most effective way to manage Alzheimer’s is through physical fitness and diet.
The Ketogenic diet has a direct impact on neurons and overall brain health. The reversal in Alzheimer’s is likely as ketones have the ability to stimulate the survival of neurons and their extensions, thereby protecting the vital communication network between brain cells (Charlie Foundation, 2019). A lot of neurological conditions are interconnected. For example, people with Alzheimer’s are more prone to seizures. Clinical evidence suggests that a Ketogenic diet is a viable option for patients struggling with epilepsy because a high-fat diet can reduce the number and regularity of seizures (Ulamek-Koziol et al., 2019). Diabetes and Alzheimer’s are both affected by the excess of insulin relative to glucose levels in the blood. Compelling evidence mentioned earlier demonstrates that diabetes can be managed and regulated through a systematic dietary intervention like Keto as well.
Alterations in a diet play a significant role in neurological conditions. The Ketogenic diet can be considered a reasonable nutrition practice for patients dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It protects brain functions by stimulating the growth and survival of neurons. Based on the recent studies, the diet serves as an effective preventative measure and a recommended treatment option that should be considered by the patients and medical professionals treating them.
Possible Risks of the Keto Diet
The diet’s opposers argue that its efficacy and health benefits are primarily overshadowed by all the potential side effects. They include high blood pressure, nausea, fatigue, and excessive sweating (Francis et al., 2019). Dietary alterations such as the Ketogenic diet are not just ways to lose weight. They are systematic treatments that should be monitored and regulated by a professional. Like any other form of therapy, the Keto diet requires a careful approach that comprises frequent tests and adjustments. The diet is supposed to be a supplementary nutrition practice that has to be carefully implemented after discussions with a physician.
The Ketogenic diet is an effective and safe treatment option for patients struggling with serious health conditions. It is used for patients with epilepsy as it helps them regulate their unexpected seizures. Diabetes and obesity associated with it are often treated by altering the diet and lowering carbohydrate consumption. Neurological issues and diseases like Alzheimer’s can be potentially reversed by switching to a high-fat diet that stabilizes insulin levels and protects brain cells. Despite the growing trend of dieting using Keto, losing weight is not the primary goal of this nutrition practice. The diet should be discussed with and closely monitored by a physician.
Bolla, A. M., Caretto, A., Laurenzi, A., Scavini, M., & Piemonti, L. (2019). Low-carb and Ketogenic diets in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Nutrients, 11(5), 962. Web.
Charlie Foundation. (2019). Keto for Alzheimer’s. Author. Web.
Francis, B. A., Fillenworth, J., Gorelick, P., Karanec, K., & Tanner, A. (2019). The feasibility, safety and effectiveness of a Ketogenic diet for refractory status epilepticus in adults in the intensive care unit. Neurocritical Care, 30, 652-657. Web.
Liu, H., Yang, Y., Wang, Y., Tang, H., Zhang, f., Zhang, Y., & Zhao, Y. (2018). Ketogenic diet for treatment of intractable epilepsy in adults: A meta‐analysis of observational studies. Epilepsia Open 3, 9-17. Web.
Ulamek-Koziol, M., Czuczwar, S., Januszewski, S., & Pluta, R. (2019). Ketogenic diet and epilepsy. Nutrients, 11(10), 2510. Web.