What We're Reading: Mass Gathering Concerns; Trump Dissolving US, WHO Ties; Racial Inequities and Pandemic Spread

June 1, 2020

Health officials have concerns as people nationwide participate in mass gatherings to protest the death of George Floyd; Trump cuts US ties with WHO over handling of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); former FDA commisioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, says addressing racial inequities in COVID-19 transmission and higher death rates could halt the pandemic.

Mass Gatherings May Threaten Tracking, Containment of COVID-19

As protests involving the death of George Floyd continue to grow nationwide, the gathering of mass crowds and responses by law enforcement may threaten efforts by health officials to track and contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), reported The Associated Press. Contact tracing, which requires infected individuals to remember everyone in contact they have been in with within the past several days, could prove impossible with mass gatherings. In addition, public mistrust of government and police could complicate efforts. However, William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, notes that as the protests were outside and since many of the people involved wore masks, much of the contact may be less hazardous.

Trump Cutting US, WHO Relationship Over COVID-19 Handling

President Donald Trump announced last Friday that the United States will cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO), citing its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Reuters. The move follows rising tensions between the Trump administration and China, with Trump saying Chinese officials failed to report the virus as obligated to WHO. The US initially joined WHO in 1948, and currently owes more than $200 million in assessed contributions.

Gottlieb: Addressing Underlying Racial Inequity Key to Halt Pandemic

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, noted that addressing underlying problems of racial inequity in the US could halt the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Hill. Racial inequities amid the pandemic, which has been shown to impact communities of color at disproportionate rates, may be addressed at 2 levels, he said—why there are higher rates of COVID-19, and subsequently, how this leads to higher death rates among black Americans.