What We’re Reading: Midwest COVID-19 Outbreak; Vaccine Trial Mistrust; Airline to Offer Testing

September 25, 2020

Cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) surge in the Midwest; people of color express concerns about participating in COVID-19 vaccine trials; United Airlines will offer certain passengers COVID-19 testing in October.

Midwest Sees Rise in COVID-19 Cases

With the exception being Ohio, the immediate past 4 weeks have seen more cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Midwest region of the United States than the previous 4-week period, Reuters reports. South Dakota alone had a 166% increase, and 10 states—including Montana and Utah this week—have had recent record 1-day increases. The annual Sturgis motorcycle rally has been linked to many of the cases in the Dakotas, and school and university reopenings and Labor Day weekend gatherings have been cited as additional reasons for the overall rise.

Health Care–Related Inequalities May Be Holding Up Vaccine Trial Participation

Among the concerns cited by people of color being asked to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials are whether they will be given priority status once a vaccine is approved and what happens if they experience adverse effects, says STAT. These stem from the fact that many—including Black, Latinx, Native American, and Pacific Islander individuals—are more likely to not have health insurance. Efforts are being made to address these issues: Moderna slowed its recruitment process to ensure greater diversity and partnered with church leaders, social services organization, and unions for more effective outreach; the AstraZeneca trial currently under way at the University of California, San Diego, has become mobile, setting up directly in the neighborhoods most affected.

United Airlines Soon to Offer Coronavirus Testing

Starting in October, and only for passengers going from San Francisco to Hawaii, a pilot program from United Airlines will let patients choose to be tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, before their flight, writes The Washington Post. The 2 methods of testing to choose from are a rapid test and a self-administered mail-in test, at costs of $250 and $80, which the customers are responsible for. The rapid test is administered prior to boarding, while the mail-in version has to be performed 72 hours before departure, with results provided by text or email. Negative test results would exempt passengers from the 14-day quarantine currently required for those entering Hawaii.