Sam Krystal’s Visualization Intro/Outro

Preface: I made an unwieldy grouped together visualization, I will write my intros & outros for the bottom two graphs.


1 . (I will revise this to be designed like the top viz)


In the graph below, we see that hospitalization rates of Black Nebraskans, represented in the teal bar, sit at some of the lowest rates per capita (will be evident revised) of any racial demographic in the state, xx value which I will calculate.



In the graph below, Black Nebraskan Covid-19 cases are represented by a teal line. Since August 9th, 2020, Black Nebraskans have had the highest Covid case incidences of any racial minority that the state tracks, though it should be noted that white and ethnic Hispanic case numbers far exceed that of the Black population. As of November 25th, 2020, there were 3,462 documented Black Nebraskan Covid cases.


Shelly’s Viz+Intro Outro

The chart below shows the total positive cases among each race in Iowa. Among the minority races, Asian’s number is very close to the number for those who identify as black.

Although Asians only account for less than 3% of the Iowa population, they are suffering as much as the other racial minority groups.

The graph down below shows the number of deaths from Covid-19 among each racial group in Iowa. Similar to the total case number, the death number for Asians in the state is very close to the black and hispanic community.

With its population being less than 3% in the state, the death rate for Asian community is about 1.4%.


Diana’s Intro + Outro

According to the latest data from the COVID Tracking Project, Black North Dakotans had the highest rate of COVID-19 cases relative to their population in the state, eclipsing even other vulnerable groups including Native Americans. While the state does not release racial data for deaths from COVID-19, the infection rate is over 9,000 per 100,000 for Black people, compared to about 7,200 for people identifying as white, as seen in the chart below.

These numbers reflect what activists and government officials have seen in the state as the virus has devastated African immigrant communities. North Dakota has endured a wave of infections in the fall, and currently has the highest case rate in the nation, but immigrants are particularly vulnerable to the virus due to higher rates of poverty and language barriers that prevent them from getting information about COVID-19.


Mariana’s Draft

NOTE: I need more interviews! This was not my original pitch. I came across this story as I was doing research and interviews for my first idea, about the death rate among the Black population, and I realized that this story was more specific and “newsworthy”, meaning this is not only explained by racism, I have more to explore here. But because I pivoted and there was Thanksgiving week in the way, I couldn’t get more interviews.

North Carolina: how construction sites contributed to Covid-19 cases among Hispanics

Hispanics/Latinos represent only 9% of the population but account for 29% of all cases in the state. A lot of them work in the construction sector, one that was deemed ‘essential’ during the pandemic even though construction sites are considered “high-risk” settings for the disease

Mariana Janjácomo

North Carolina’s construction sites have contributed to form one of the state’s most glaring disparities when it comes to ethnicity and Covid-19: the high prevalence of cases among the Hispanic community. Hispanics represent only 9% of the population but account for 29% of all Covid-19 cases in the state — and this percentage used to be even higher. In July, for example, Hispanics were 46% of all Covid-19 cases in North Carolina. One of the main factors that led to this situation is the fact that there are higher proportions of Hispanics working in essential jobs that make social distancing difficult. One of them is the construction sector, deemed ‘essential’ during the entire pandemic.

Anyone who accesses the North Carolina Department of Health’s Covid-19 response can learn the following information: “farms and meat and poultry processing plants along with construction sites throughout North Carolina appear to be high-risk settings for transmission of Covid-19 due to the nature of the work, the challenge for employees to practice social distancing and the continuous nature of the plant operations”.

In Mecklenburg County, one of the two main urban counties in the state, the percentage of Hispanics is bigger than the general in the state — Hispanics represent 14% of the population in the county and only 9% in the state. And in there, too, the rate of Covid-19 cases among them is disproportionate: 21% of all cases in the county are among the Hispanic community. County officials also admit that at least a big part of that is because Hispanics work in jobs considered essential, mainly in the construction sector.

The decision of considering construction workers as essential workers was, from the beginning, a source of safety concerns that ranged from household to transportation and workplace conditions. “Some people started to express their concerns that construction sites would transform into clusters because of transportation and workplace conditions. It’s not rare to see a lot of these workers sitting in a pickup truck together”, said Alison Kuznitz, a journalist at the local newspaper The Observer who has been covering the pandemic in Mecklenburg County since the beginning.

Kuznitz said she witnessed some efforts by the government to reaching the Hispanic population in the county. “They are doing campaigns in Spanish and briefings with Spanish subtitles; actually not only Spanish but they are translating the campaigns to ten different languages because we have immigrants from other parts of the world who don’t speak English nor Spanish.” According to her, grassroots organizations and food pantries have also been of huge help, since so many workers lost their jobs because of the pandemic or were unable to work due to the long-lasting effects of the disease.

Another factor for worry among Hispanics, according to the Mecklenburg County officials, are the household conditions. Essential workers who are more exposed to the virus can spread the disease to their immediate family members. If they live not only with their kids, but also with their parents or grandparents, that creates multigenerational transmission, which can be very dangerous.

In order to try to avoid construction sites becoming clusters of Covid-19, the Charlotte Commercial Construction Coalition (4C), a coalition of more than 30 Charlotte-area general contractors defined in April a series of rules that employers and employees of the sector should follow. But those are not enough to tranquilize the workers. So far, North Carolina registered 18 reported clusters in construction workplaces, according to state data. What they consider a cluster is a minimum of 5 cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases.

Not a New Problem

The worrying situation of Hispanics during the pandemic of Covid-19 in North Carolina is, of course, a 2020 issue. But suffering from workplace injuries and illnesses is nothing new to Hispanics. Data from “Death on the Job 2020”, a report from AFL-CIO (The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), shows that 67% of Latinos killed on the job were immigrants; their job fatality rate was higher than the national average. In 2018, there were 961 deaths of Hispanics because of fatal work injuries. Of those, 294 occurred within the construction industry.

The same document also shows that Hispanics represent the largest number of people affected by Covid-19 by population size: 3.5 million persons were living in the hotspot counties around the country that were examined by the research. The report highlights the responsibility of the agencies in charge of enforcing working conditions and the federal administration. There were no standard procedures regarding that to follow across the country during this pandemic.

According to CPWR (The Center for Construction Research and Training), a nonprofit dedicated to reducing occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the construction industry, in 2015 there were 2.8 million Hispanics working in construction in the United States. About 73% of them were born outside the U.S. (need a quote about what is needed to protect this population and what are the main challenges they face; low wages, language barriers…)


Elli’s Draft – Updated Intro + Outro

Tyson Foods attempts to mitigate PR nightmare while COVID-19 cases among Hispanic, Black, and Asian populations increase.

At the height of the first-wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hispanic, Black, and Asian front-line employees at meat-processing facilities worked shoulder-to-shoulder in low ventilated congregate spaces while taking orders from mostly white management who we now know wagered with their employes’ lives. The country experienced the height of the first COVID-19 wave of cases, fears, lockdowns, and anxieties with hot spots ravaging the country at long-term care facilities, meat-processing plants, and nursing homes. Now, eight months later in the midst of the deadly second wave, the US is making its way towards three-hundred thousand COVID-19 deaths and the meat-packing industry remains a national breeding ground for the virus. Throughout the past eight months, there have been some alarming allegations that led to lawsuits alongside global outrage of the country’s inability to keep the virus under control.

Tyson Foods, the global meat processing company which accounts for approximately twenty percent of the beef, pork and chicken produced in the United States, has been at the helm of these outbreaks. With a total of one-hundred and forty production facilities in the country, the majority of which are in Arkansas, Tyson has become an example of how being slow to adopt CDC recommended procedures and precautions can cost lives. The handling of the virus in these meat-processing facilities became so alarming, China suspended all poultry imports from Tyson Foods back in June, a major blow to the export business and brand reputation. Despite the public concern, Tyson Foods Senior Vice President Scott Brook shared in July, “we have more than 450 locations across the country, including some 140 production facilities, and a majority have not experienced any COVID-19 cases to date. In some of the sites where we have had cases of the virus, our prevalence is the same as the prevalence in the community. There are some sites where our numbers are higher than the community’s.” Brook and other senior management team members at the company have consistently applauded their internal efforts for implementing CDC recommended protocols, while also noting that community infections remain higher than company rates.

The below timeline offers a look into Tyson Food’s major COVID-19 updates alongside the rise in cases in Arkansas, beginning in April. [THIS WILL BE A TIME SERIES GRAPH THAT SHOWS THE RISE IN CASES ALONGSIDE THE ADDED MEASURES]
3/17/20: Tyson Foods issues first statement regarding intent to protect team members and ensure continuity of essential business. The company implemented employee travel restrictions, remote work and limited offices and facility visits. Updates to team policies include:
Relaxing attendance policies – eliminate punitive effect for missing work due to illness.
Waive 5 consecutive day waiting period for Short Term Disability benefits.
Waive the co-pay, co-insurance and deductible for doctor visits for COVID-19 testing as well as eliminating pre-approval or preauthorization steps.
Waive co-pays for the use of telemedicine.
Relax refill limits for 30 day prescriptions of maintenance medication.
3/31/20: Tyson Foods will pay approximately $60 million in “thank you” bonuses to 116,000 frontline workers and truckers in the U.S. who support the company’s operations every day to provide food during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible team members will receive a $500 bonus, payable during the first week of July.
4/17/20: Tyson Foods implemented new internal measures including taking worker temperatures, requiring protective face coverings, conducting additional cleaning and sanitizing and implementing social distancing measures such as installing workstation dividers and providing more breakroom space.
4/22/20: Tyson Foods temporarily closes its Logansport facility. Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, Inc. indefinitely suspends operations at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork plant.
4/23/20: Tyson Foods temporarily closed its Pasco, Washington, beef facility.
4/27/20: Tyson Foods provides tour of plant facilities to a variety of state local healthcare and administrative professionals including:
Dr. Richard McMullen, state environmental health director and associate director for science, Center for Local Public Health, Arkansas Department of Health
Dr. Allison James, epidemic intelligence service officer with the CDC
Pansy James, RN and administrator, Dr. Bates Outreach Clinic, Arkansas Department of Health
Eldon J. Alik, consul general for the Marshall Islands Consulate General Office of Arkansas
A private primary care physician from Northwest Arkansas
4/29/20: Tyson Foods now offers $120 million in “thank you bonuses” for 116,000 U.S. frontline workers and truckers, up from the $60 million announced in early April. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., winds down production and will temporarily pause operations May 1 through May 4 at its Dakota City, Neb., beef facility to complete a deep cleaning of the entire plant.
4/30/20: Tyson Foods dispatched first mobile medical clinics will be on-site at facilities in Louisa County, Iowa; Waterloo, Iowa, and Logansport, Indiana. Additional medical clinics and mobile medical clinics will be deployed at Tyson facilities as needed.Tyson Foods partners with Matrix Medical Network to provide on-site healthcare including:
Diagnostic (PCR) testing of team members for COVID-19
Daily on-site clinical screening support at Tyson facilities to help ensure a safe working environment
Assistance with the environmental design of Tyson facilities to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread
Team member access to nurse practitioner care with access onsite or through a mobile health clinic
Employee education and support for personal health goals or concerns

5/1/20: Tyson Foods resumes operations in Logansport, Ind.
5/5/20: Tyson Fresh Meats resumes operations in Pasco, Wash. and Waterloo, Iowa.
6/1/20: Tyson Foods conducts facility-wide testing for COVID-19 at processing facilities and other operations in Benton and Washington Counties, where positive cases of the coronavirus have risen.
7/30/20: Tyson Foods has created a chief medical officer position and plans to add almost 200 nurses and administrative support personnel to supplement the more than 400 people currently part of the company’s health services team. The additional nurses will conduct the on-site testing and assist with case management, coordinating treatment for team members who contract the virus.
9/3/20: Tyson Foods is partnering with Marathon Health to pilot seven health clinics near company production facilities. The clinics will give Tyson team members and their families easier access to high-quality healthcare and, in most cases, at no cost. The stated goal is to promote a culture of health.

According to a new report from BuzzFeed News, these implemented policies come too late as seven meat processing plants in Arkansas owned by JBS, Tyson, and Cargill Tyson are accused of underreporting COVID-19 cases while the virus still has a stronghold on the workers. Congregate working conditions at these meat processing sites require employees to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in low ventilated warehouses with oftentimes unfavorable or non-existent paid-time-off policies. These conditions are having a disproportionate impact on the marginalized communities that make up the workforce at these processing plants. According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “Among 23 states reporting COVID-19 outbreaks in meat and poultry processing facilities, 16,233 cases in 239 facilities occurred, including 86 (0.5%) COVID-19–related deaths. Among cases with race/ethnicity reported, 87% occurred among racial or ethnic minorities. Commonly implemented interventions included worker screening, source control measures (universal face coverings), engineering controls (physical barriers), and infection prevention measures (additional hand hygiene stations).”

When looking at COVID-19 rates In the state of Arkansas, Hispanic/Latino residents make up 7% of the population, however make up 15% of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Springdale, AR —home to Tyson Foods Headquarters— happens to have the largest population of Hispanic/Latino residents (28,600), making up 36% of the city’s population of 76 thousand. The below graph highlights the rise in COVID-19 cases for Hispanic populations in Arkansas.

As seen above, the population’s COVID cases reached a staggering thirty-five thousand cases, making up 15% of total cases. Although new cases have leveled off, the second-wave continues to be of concern.

Aside from the poor publicity garnered from China cancelling its shipments, Tyson has a wrongful death lawsuit to atone for. According to CNN, Oscar Fernandez filed the wrongful death suit over the summer when his father Isidro Fernandez, an employee at Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa plant, died from COVID-19 complications. The initial suit alleged Tyson did not take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of its employees. This month, the lawsuit was amended with allegations of malpractice and misconduct from Waterloo facility leadership. These allegations claim that management cancelled safety meetings, avoided the plant floors once COVID-19 cases were confirmed, encouraged employees to continue working regardless if they were sick or exhibiting symptoms, and most shockingly, management established “a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many employees would test positive for Covid-19.”

The official complainants include Food Chain Workers Alliance, Rural Community Workers Alliance, HEAL Food Alliance, American Friends Service Committee – Iowa, Idaho Organization of Resource Councils and Forward Latino. This Complaint alleges that the COVID-19 policies adopted after March 11, 2020 violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act protects individuals from racial discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance. Complainants argue that “policies adopted by these companies cause a disparate impact on Black, Latino, and Asian workers and represent a pattern or practice of racial discrimination. The adopted internal policies reject common-sense protective measures, including a six-foot minimum of social distancing among workers critical to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The internal policies discriminate on the basis of race by causing a substantial adverse effect on Black, Latino, and Asian workers. In addition, publicly available facts indicate a pattern or practice of discrimination. Existing social inequities compound this discrimination for Black and Latino workers, including higher death rates and higher hospitalization rates than white people.”


Catarina’s Draft

As much of the country was contemplating whether or not to have a Thanksgiving gathering, residents of New Mexico were once again bracing for a stay-at-home order, starting in the second half of November, as COVID cases soared and hospitals reached near capacity.

While the whole state is dealing with a second wave, the pandemic has affected native americans in New Mexico at an alarming rate. This population represents a total of about 11% of the state total, yet they account for 17.26% of all COVID-19 cases.

The numbers become even more chilling when looking at the total number of deaths, as the percentage of Native American and Alaska Natives (AIAN) is almost half. Even by national standard that is notably high: the US average number of COVID-19 AIAN deaths per 100 people is 85, but that number jumps to 290 when looking at New Mexico alone.

“I feel like it’s almost criminal to let them die at such a high rate,” Jagdish Khubchandani, Professor of Public Health at New Mexico State University said.

Systemic issues that lead to poor healthcare and lack of access to basic services have put these communities at a disadvantage from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pandemics are not made in a day. Pandemics are made in decades. And preparedness is also not done in a day,” Khubchandani said. “[New Mexico] was a poor state before the pandemic, one of the poorest with such a diverse population that had chronically underfunded health systems. I think what we have is the sin of the past punishing us now. We have never prepared to deal with the pandemic nationwide. And with these populations, we didn’t have the outreach, the extension, the messaging methodology.”

To understand the devastating effects of the pandemic on the AIAN population, Khubchandani says we have to look at both pre causation factors and pandemic response issues.

“Much of what’s happening now with these populations and New Mexico is because of the historic underfunding and being historically marginalized,” Khubchandani said. “These are people who have very poor air quality. They don’t have water to wash their hands. They don’t have the resources and the money to buy materials, and they are getting sicker at a younger age, dying at a younger age than the national average. In part, because they have so many medical complications: high amount of diabetes, hypertension… which is related to poverty, the type of occupations.”

Access to healthcare is harder, not only because of geographic factors, for many who live in more remote areas, but also cultural reasons. This means many of the COVID patients from AIAN communities who reach the hospital will already be in a more severe condition.

“Imagine if you have fever right now and you have to go 15 miles to see a doctor, most likely we’ll just let it go,” Khubchandani said. “Most of them seem to be living in areas where there’s no healthcare. So it could be an urban neglected area or a tribal area where there’s no health care. And then it’s hard to reach out to the community. They have their own clanship and clan systems where they heal each other. Traditional medicine outreach has been weak.”

Communication is also a major issue, Khubchandani warned. “Not everyone understands English. Not everyone understands the seriousness of the pandemic,” he said, pointing out Texas — “a state with a large proportion of Hispanic people” — as an example. “They don’t even care to translate messages into Spanish or other languages or plan special communication strategies.”

While Khubchandani believes New Mexico has fared somewhat good in terms of communication, there is still a lot to be desired, especially when it comes to reaching out to people living in remote areas, who for example might not have a cellphone or speak English.

Entities such as the Indian health service, which falls within the Department of Health and Human Services, play a crucial role in this outreach, but their jobs are hindered by the resources they lack.

“They have tried to do some word of the mouth, local flyers and local info, but it’s not been aggressive enough,” Khubchandani said. “They have to be very aggressive. But that’s a difficult population to reach out to.”

Still, the professor believes that, while it’s one of the poorest states in the country, New Mexico’s overall response to the pandemic, on a larger scale has been exemplary when compared to other states — especially given that it’s working with very limited responses. The governor’s action has been stern, taking extreme measure when needed.

“I think New Mexico again is a role model, (…) given so many pre existing disadvantages, whereas I think there are places that had so much advantage and they messed up,” he said. “We have hard populations to reach out to. Navajo nations are not easy to deal with. But still they did what they could.”


Sydney’s Draft

Just an hour south of Tupelo lies Mississippi State University, nestled near the town of Starkville, or what others call the “Golden Triangle.” David Buys, an assistant professor in the Department of Health at MSU, has watched the coronavirus pandemic escalate since March. He says that the rate of coronavirus cases has climbed in the last few months in his home of Mississippi.

When Governor Tate Reeves began to create a stay at home order for the state, coronavirus cases were already greatly increasing. On April 1, a statewide stay at home order was enforced to decrease contamination, except for businesses and services deemed essential, which were many. Gov. Reeves enforced a mask mandate in May, which required everyone to wear a face mask in public when social distancing was not possible.

But many have said that Reeves was late to enforce policies, and he has relaxed his mandates too soon. Reeves lifted the mask mandate in September, which didn’t help the new onslaught of cases that came in the Fall. Specifically, the race data has shown that coronavirus cases have increased among white communities, while the amount of cases has decreased among black communities.

Buys, the professor from MSU, says that the messaging from the state government could be one of the reasons that cases have increased. According to data published in November, this is the first time since June that the white community has exceeded the black community in coronavirus cases. Buys said this could be because of the political affiliations between white communities and the Republican government.

“I think the presidential campaign that has been so drawn on racial lines has emboldened white people to resist the precautions,” he said. “I think the federal government’s response has called into question the validity of science and the recommendations that have come forth from our public health and medical experts.”
Governor Reeves, a friend of Donald Trump’s and a first-term Republican, in March decided to wait and see how coronavirus would affect the state. He waited until April to declare stay at home orders, while local governors began restrictions as early as March 15. Reeves has continuously lifted state mandates since August and it has shown an uptick in cases.

Buys says that the number of cases will increase if Reeves doesn’t return the state back to a face mask mandate and create more social distancing restrictions.

“After the governor lifted the statewide mask mandate, and he has begun to implement pocket mandates depending on rates county by county. We know that people travel between counties, so they are going between counties and the public health opinion would be that the isolated mandates are not as effective as statewide mandates.”

Buys said that while he’s noticed an increase of mask-wearing and social distancing in black communities of Mississippi, the discretion among white communities has decreased, and this could be leading to the increase in the number of cases. According to data released by Mississippi State University in November, the number of cases has increased much higher in the white community, up to 57,924 cases. While among African-Americans, the number of cases is about 50,535.

Anecdotally, Buys said that he’s noticed more white people attending schools in person, traveling out-of-state, and doing activities that are not safe according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There appear to be many more minority families that are taking advantage of virtual schooling options than those that are not.”

The reason for this, Buys said, could also be due to the fact that black communities were hit hard by COVID-19 at the beginning of the pandemic, so there is a large increase in social distancing in this community. While white families, who have been notoriously Republican in the state, have leaned towards the information given by Governor Reeves and President Trump, which has led to confusion.

“White folks who were maybe more likely to be Trump supporters also bought the anti-science rhetoric that was coming from that administration.”

But Yulanda Haddix, who is the local president of the Mississippi NAACP chapter in Tupelo, said that the data is showing a skewed version of the real crisis. She said that she thinks that African-Americans are still being infected at a higher rate but it’s not being presented properly.

“COVID is not decreasing in the black community, it’s just not reported in the black community. We don’t go and get COVID tested, it’s not readily available,” she said. “We live in a rural community, most of us don’t have health insurance. When we get an illness we treat ourselves, and we aren’t going to the doctor unless we have to go. That’s why it’s not reported as much.”

She said that although the data says differently, she believes that the African-American community is getting hit much harder. She said that because of systemic issues in Mississippi, many black residents don’t have access to health insurance or testing clinics located near their homes.

“Because we don’t have the availability of health insurance, or primary care physicians, we are not going to be diagnosed. By holiday time, I think we are going to gather. All we have is family. I think it is more prevalent in our communities, we are just not being counted.”

Despite what Haddix said, the trends are still showing that white communities are increasing in COVID cases. According to data by the COVID Tracking Project, about 42% of coronavirus cases in Mississippi are African-American, while 48% are white. Even though the numbers show that coronavirus cases have increased among the white community, she said that COVID is disproportionately affecting the black community because of the inaccessibility of testing sites and the amount of time it takes to get tested as well as the availability of healthcare.

“In rural communities, or low-income or underserved, no one has three hours to get tested. And if you don’t have health insurance, most of the time you can’t get the test. Mississippi is the way it is because people allow it to be that way. The underserved continue to be underserved and the upper class is the upper class.”

-I will have my revised viz up soon, I just need help inserting new data that I have from Mississippi.


Bessie’s Draft

School-aged children from Latinx families are disproportionately affected by the technology gap as COVID-19 shuts down schools in Colorado.

Job loss, evictions, lack of access to mental health, and wellness support. These are all realities and consequences of COVID-19 for many families across the United States. Yet evidence shows that the virus continues to excessively affect people of color. 

Data suggests that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Latinx communities across the country. On average, Latinx people are three times more likely to contract the deadly virus compared to a white person. The disproportionate rates of infection have been particularly obvious in the state of Colorado. 

Even though Latinx people make up an estimated 22% of the population in Colorado, they make up to 38% of the total coronavirus cases in the state. The graph below shows that cases among Latinx people in Colorado are comparable to cases among White people who make up to 87.1% of the population.

Cases are especially high in Latinx communities in Denver, where they make up to over 52% of total cases.

The high number of COVID-19 cases in Latinx communities could be attributed to the minimal work from home opportunities many Latinx people have, and not having access to a steady internet connection.

An executive order by Governor Polis asked all schools in Colorado to close on March 18th. Although schools had the opportunities later to open up, many districts had already decided to move their teaching completely online. 

A report by Colorado Future Centre estimated that there are almost 55,000 school-aged children in Colorado who do not have reliable internet connections in their homes, and more than 75% of them are from a Hispanic background. Many of these school-aged children, also have parents who work in companies that do not allow them to work from home. An estimated 57% of these parents are considered essential workers.

In response to these educational barriers, Colorado state filed a petition which urged Federal Communications Commission to waive restrictions on federally funded broadband access in student homes. The petition hoped to extend the access of internet connectivity to student’s homes. 

Colorado’s Commissioner of Education, Katy Anthes, announced in September that the state will invest $2 million in coronavirus relief funds to ensure that all students have access to the necessary resources which will allow them to study from home. 

The state is also working closely with large telecommunications companies, to provide a free hotspot for families of students. T-mobile is working on providing 100GB of data a year for low-income families which will be available for the next five years. 

Many not-for-profit organizations, such as RISE Colorado, are also focusing on initiatives which that will support families with school-aged children who do not have access to educational resources during this uncertain time.

Note: I have scheduled interviews with RISE Colorado and a student who has been affected by the pandemic this week. This story is a deviation from my original pitch and is focused more specifically on how COVID has widened the technology gap for students in Colorado. 



Maria Abreu’s Article Draft

Alaska’s Covid-19 death rate is among the lowest in the country, yet the state has one of the highest death rates of Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders (NHPIs).

Despite the 14% surge in cases on Nov. 27, the state’s per capita Covid-19 death rate has remained one of the lowest, at 16 deaths per 100,000 people. The national rate is about seven times that, at 81 deaths per 100,000 people. However, the state has not escaped one nation-wide trend: the enduring systemic, health and social inequalities that have put people of color, especially NHPIs, at increased risk of contracting or dying from the virus.

“(NHPIs) are facing the highest Covid-19 case rates of any race and ethnicity throughout the country,” said Ninez Ponce, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in a phone interview (UCLA CHPR), and one of the founders of the NHPI Covid-19 Data Policy Lab.

Making up just 1% of the Alaska’s population, the mortality rate of NHPIs is at 83.6 per 100,000 people, according to an epidemiology report released by the state. The next highest mortality rate was among American Indian/Alaska Natives (AIAN) at 26.7 per 100,000 people.

The highest number of NHPI deaths in the state has been nine, but Ponce says that for a group that is so small, “waiting until the 10th death could be too late for these communities.”

The state’s epidemiology report cites that underlying health conditions, along with “long-standing health and social inequities” can partly explain the state’s race-based disparities. However, there are other factors endemic to Alaska that contribute to the challenges faced by this group.

Arne Krogh, a dentist who has a private pilot license in Alaska, says that geography, weather, the lack of transportation infrastructure and the concentration of this population in rural areas makes it more difficult for NHPI and AIAN communities to be served and get access to healthcare.

“A lot of them can’t drive because they’re not on the road system. If they need to be ambulanced it’s by air to Anchorage mostly. On a day like today, I’m looking outside my window and it’s snowing sideways. The visibility is probably two miles, so it’s hard to get in and out of some of these places when the weather’s like this. When you add the fact that they’re not on the road system, and you’re always fighting the weather elements up here, it just exacerbates the health care and the lack of services. Even though we want to, it’s just hard to get out there,” Krogh said in a phone interview.

These communities are typically shut off from outside visitors and accessible only by boat or plane, with their only lifeline being through carrier delivery. “These places don’t have level three trauma hospitals,” Krogh said. “Typically, the nurse is also the mailman or the teacher. You have a lot of different people wear different hats.”

Lacking the healthcare infrastructure needed to treat Covid-19 complications, many patients have to be flown to Anchorage in a turboprop or small jet, and if the case is severe, they have to go as far as Seattle or Portland.

These endemic factors could be part of the reason why the death rate of NHPIs in Alaska is one of the highest in the nation, without having the largest population of NHPIs. In fact, the top three states with the highest population of NHPIs, California, Hawaii and Washington, are not among the states with the highest death rates of NHPIs. The Pacific Islander Covid-19 Response Team, a group of NHPIs researchers, health experts and community leaders, reports that the states with the highest case and death rates are Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois and Alaska.

However, it is difficult to observe any nation-wide virus trend with certainty because only 30% of states are reporting NHPI disaggregated data, according to the UCLA CHPR. Many other states lump together NHPI and Asian American as a single race category.

“(NHPIs) are highly distinguishable, but there’s a frequent aggregation with other racial groups or otherwise complete omission from demographic data. NHPIs are historically and presently overlooked, even in a time when racial disparities in Covid-19 are a significant topic of national public health discussion. With a high-stakes pandemic, there’s an urgent need for widely available disaggregated NHPI data,” said Karla Thomas, a scholar from the NHPI Covid-19 Data Policy Lab at UCLA’s CHPR.

Nationwide, there are other contributing factors to the high death rate. According to Thomas, who is part of the community herself, one in four of them work in essential roles, many are undocumented and are a very communal population. They frequently gather for traditional events like chiefly bestowments and religious ceremonies, which have continued even with rising cases of Covid-19.

UCLA’s CHPR has partnered with the Pacific Islander Covid-19 Response Team to generate reports that are sent to community constituents in the hopes of allocating more resources to help NHPIs. They’ve also planned and implemented infrastructure for informing and supporting families about the virus. Many of their presentations are in Samoan to ensure faith-based leaders, who are primary NHPI-language speakers and trusted messengers of the community, spread the information as widely as possible.

“Pacific people are a minority with a majority mindset. Moving forward, there is a need we have all uncovered. This work is spiritual in its nature. Everyone from (the NHPI Response Team and UCLA) sees this work as a spiritual venture into something greater, because we all hold ourselves – as people who collectively think, eat, live and breathe together in the Pacific Islands – as responsible to each other,” said Thomas.


Maureen’s Draft

COVID-19 and Rural America: How a County of 5 Thousand Tests Majority Positive

Current Word Count: 348

Lincoln County, one of Nevada’s most sparse and rural counties per square mile, now leads the state’s in positive coronavirus cases, with a percentage of 62.7 percent.

The county, which has a total population of 5,200, had only five cases of COVID-19 through the first seven months of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lincoln County is just one of the many rural areas nationwide which are experiencing a surge of positive COVID-19 cases, in the second wave of the pandemic.

Across the country, most non-metropolitan counties have now recorded at least 100 cases or more per 10,000 people since the pandemic began, more than double than in early September. Nevada as a whole has also seen an increase in almost every country, with an average of 2,429 cases per day.

The county, which is a total of 10,633.4 square miles, is mainly ranching county. North of Las Vegas, it only contains one hospital which provides healthcare to residents.

Nevada’s second least populated county, Eureka County, has a population of 1,966, yet an 11 percent positivity rate.

As November arrived, Lincoln County held a testing positivity rate of 18.6%, followed by Nye, Washoe and Lyon counties, all above 10%. Clark County, including Las Vegas, had a positivity rate of 9.8%. It’s first covid-realted death occurred in October. Now, the county has a total of 19 deaths.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Country Emergency Manager Eric Holt claims he was helping create a “recovery plan” to submit a state COVID-19 task force. Holt intends to increase testing and acquiring test kits which can be processed within 24 hours.

Nevada governor Steve Sisolak last week had announced a three-week “pause” beginning on Nov. 24, putting heavier restrictions on businesses and stricter mask mandates. However, this mandate came after the 2020 presidential election, which may have been a possible factor in the increase of cases.

President of the League of Women Voters Nevada Sondra Cosgrove says that while the state’s August law which mandated all Nevada residents to vote by mail, increased voter turnout, a significant number of people voted in person.

“A the vote(s) started coming in, when they added in all the ballots that come in without a postmark, it was very easy to see that way more Democrats had voted by mail and way more Republicans had voted in person,” said Sondra.


This story is not my original pitch; as I was researching more for my story, I noticed how a low populated such as Lincoln County, Nevada is testing so high for positive COVID-19 cases, and yet are underfunded and under-resourced. I want to expand on this story and interview representatives from Lincoln County’s lone hospital, as well as the county’s Emergency Manager. Since this is a change in story, I have not interviewed them yet. My original pitch was to compare voting by communities hit by coronavirus, and so I interviewed the President of the League of Women Voters Sondra Cosgrove. If there is anything else I can do to better this story than I have already mentioned, please let me know!