Lives were changed during the year 2020 when COVID-19 officially started being a concern in the United States.
My life was changed on March 13, 2020; little did I know that that day would be my last day as a regular student.
I had never experienced a pandemic. I was still in middle school when the country had to go through being quarantined, and it was towards the middle of my eighth-grade year.
That year I changed a lot because I became more confident in myself and a sort of social butterfly, but everything changed after COVID.
Pre-pandemic I was doing really well with my grades and I was not afraid to speak in front of other people or to be who I was.
I was so social to the point where I would help a lot of people around my school when volunteers were needed and I was proud to talk and I was not shy at all.
When online learning began no one I knew had any idea how to navigate through it and that made learning really difficult.
There was also lots of awkwardness because it was the first time everyone saw each other through technology.
There were endless problems with the technology, the internet, and the means of communication; so in the end the pandemic took away my last months of being a middle schooler before transitioning to high school.
I personally, to this day really hate the way things went because my eighth grade year was supposed to be a great one and the way things were going I also believed I would have been really happy with my academic life.
The few months that I did spend doing online classes for my eighth grade year were nothing compared to how overwhelming the next months would be due to the fact that I had to figure out what school I would be attending for high school all through phone calls and emails that would usually not be answered.
The virus and pandemic both also took quite a negative toll on my mental health because I was not used to staying at home with my four siblings. I felt as if I had no room to breath at times and felt trapped.
I also began to overthink a lot and began to make myself panic by making my mind believe that I was isolated and that I would never be able to live a normal life again or the life I did before everything happened.
Even though there were a lot of negatives to the pandemic, some of the good things that came out of it were that I learned how to use technology better and learned that some relationships that I had were actually just acquaintances and nothing more.
In the end, I believe that COVID is something that affected every individual in one way or another.
We as a nation learned to slowly overcome it and now we should do anything and everything possible to not be in that position again,.
But if we were to go back, this time we would not be as lost as we were during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Nathaly Vazquez is a 16-year-old junior enrolled at Lassiter Early College. The oldest of five she has a goal to be successful and help her mom out in the future.
That week was unprecedented. If you weren’t directly impacted by the lack of electricity in your homes, you probably had relatives and friends over. If that wasn’t your scenario, you witnessed or heard stories of despair and hopelessness through the consistent coverage in the news and social media.
It was a lot to experience and process. My irritation goes beyond the experience. I am frustrated to see how so many of us went back to work Monday morning as if nothing happened and we continue to stay on the hamster wheel of non-stop motion—never taking the time to pause or even stop.
There were limited conversations or check-ins, just work as usual because we have fallen into the trap that profit and productivity rule over people.
In addition to last week’s debacle, over 500,000 people have died from COVID or COVID related complications.
So many family members and friends have experienced loss. The institutional knowledge as well as the potential that we will never realize and know is now gone.
And yet, we continue to move on without taking the time to stop and realize the devastation of this unseen enemy that is taking a toll on life as we know it.
Our lives have radically changed. For many of us, we have been in our homes since March 2020 with limited human contact that is usually restricted to immediate family.
Hugs and opportunities to experience the presence of others is almost non-existent except for Zoom calls and Grocery store runs. Dallas Morning News (February 4, 2021) headlines read, “With 1 of every 5 high schoolers not attending classes with regularity, Dallas ISD launches reconnection effort.”
As much as we tell ourselves that our children are resilient, obviously, they are not adjusting well, either. We keep running, moving faster as if it will suddenly go away and things will go back to normal.
In our quest, to keep up this busyness and desire to move forward, we are neglecting to pause, stop, and lament.
It’s interesting that in grammar, the comma represents a pause, and the period is designed to stop before moving to another thought.
Why is it that we understand that in language but have failed to see the correlation in our lives? Right now, we need to really sit back, reflect, and listen.
God is speaking and we are missing it big time by covering it up with more stuff to do that has yet to alleviate our pain and suffering. The book of Lamentations is credited to Jeremiah.
It is a Biblical book of poems that illustrate the pain of a people whose city had been destroyed and who had lost many loved ones.
It is a book that ponders on the suffering of man caused by the decisions and actions of men. The city of Babylon had been invaded and destroyed.
There was a need for food and people were desperate. Lamentations 3:17-26 states, “Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. 20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. 21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: 22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” 25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. 26 So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.”
Maybe it is time for us to pause, stop, cry, reflect and wait quietly to hear from God. Our very lives depend upon it.
Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew is the CEO of Soulstice Consultancy and the founder of the R2 Foundation. She is the author of four books and the host of the Tapestry Podcast.
Black Headline News LittleAfrica News By LittleAfrica Staff
At a time when the world is experiencing an “unprecedented” number of cholera outbreaks, one of the manufacturers of the only two cholera vaccines available for use in humanitarian emergencies will cease production at the end of 2022.
Health officials are concerned by Shantha Biotechnics’ announcement that the company will stop producing its Shanchol vaccine by the end of 2022 and stop supplying it by the end of 2023. Shantha Biotechnics is a wholly owned Indian subsidiary of the French pharmaceutical corporation Sanofi.
Only two of the three oral cholera vaccines made by EuBiologics, Shanchol, and Euvichol, have been licensed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and are accessible for widespread vaccination campaigns. These campaigns make it possible to stockpile significant amounts of the vaccine in locations where cholera is endemic and areas that may be particularly vulnerable to an outbreak during a humanitarian crisis. Shanchol comprised around 15% of the doses in the stockpile this year.
Shanchol is special in that it has been approved for use in a controlled temperature chain, allowing the vaccines to be stored for a short time under regulated circumstances at temperatures outside the typical cold chain of 2°C to 8°C.
Shantha’s decision to suspend production, according to Philippe Barboza, the WHO’s team leader for cholera, came despite repeated appeals from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO.
More Insight on the Discontinuation of Shanchol Cholera Vaccine…
According to Barboza, “To say the least, it’s a very disappointing strategy.”
The WHO estimates that cholera kills up to 143,000 people yearly in the world’s poorest nations, where access to clean water and minimal sanitary facilities is still inequitable. Currently, outbreaks are being fought in Haiti, Syria, Lebanon, Nigeria, Malawi, and Ethiopia, among other countries.
According to Sanofis’ representative, the decision to discontinue production of the vaccine was made in October 2020, and as “a responsible partner,” Sanofi “notified global health organizations and cholera stakeholders three years before supply discontinuation.”
The spokesperson stated: “We took this decision in a context where we were already producing very small volumes versus the total demand for cholera vaccines and in the knowledge that other cholera vaccine manufacturers (current and new entrants) had already announced increased supply capacity in the years to come.”
Furthermore, “the production of Shanchol will stop at the end of this year. Supply will be discontinued next year. Additionally, in the interests of the global cholera program, we entered into an agreement with our public health partners to complete a transfer of knowledge related to the manufacture of Shanchol.”
Dr. Ghebreyesus issued a warning last week that the cholera epidemic had been “turbocharged” by the climate crisis and that access to clean water has been further compromised by severe weather events including floods, cyclones, and droughts.
He emphasized that the average fatality rate from disease, which according to WHO’s data, was nearly three times higher than it had been during the previous five years this year, was of special concern.
Dr. Ghebreyesus warned that “With an increasing number of outbreaks, supply [of vaccine] cannot keep up with demand.”
He added, “We urge the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers to talk to us about how we can increase production.”
Although two doses of the oral cholera vaccine provide people with immunity for three years, it has become clear to health professionals that it is a crucial tool. Providing access to clean water and adequate sanitation remains the only long-term solution to cholera. According to Barboza, “The vaccine is the game changer because it allows countries to buy time to implement the rest.”
In order to increase supplies, Barboza is pleading with other manufacturers to step up. He added: “The makers of the other oral cholera vaccine, Euvichol, which is EuBiologics, of South Korea, were trying their best, but as you can understand, relying only on one manufacturer is extremely dangerous.”
DALLAS, AUGUST 12, 2022 –Abounding Prosperity Inc. and its HOPE Health and Wellness Center are hosting a monkeypox vaccine clinic for individuals at high risk and those in underserved communities in the Dallas/Fort-Worth area.
The clinic is open to eligible individuals now – by appointment only – at HOPE Health and Wellness Center, 1619 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dallas, TX 75215. Clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT every Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT every Saturday, while supplies last.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus that can spread from person to person through respiratory secretions or direct contact with an infectious rash, scabs or body fluids. JYNNEOS is the only FDA-licensed vaccine in the U.S. that is approved for prevention of the monkeypox disease.
Currently, there are approximately 6,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S.; over 700 cases in Texas; and more than 200 cases in Dallas County – more than any other county in the state. The LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately impacted with approximately 98 percent of all cases impacting gay or bisexual men.
Abounding Prosperity Inc., a nonprofit organization founded to respond to social and health disparities devastating communities of color and LGBTQ+ communities in Dallas County, initially received 300 doses of the monkeypox vaccine from Dallas County Health and Human Services. The doses will be administered at the clinic until they’re depleted.
“The limited supply of monkeypox vaccines is concerning for medically underserved communities and individuals at highest risk, as they are less likely to have access to care or the vaccine,” said Kirk Myers-Hill, founder and chief executive officer, Abounding Prosperity Inc. “Hosting this clinic in South Dallas makes it easy for individuals to obtain the vaccine in their neighborhood. It is imperative for as many people as possible to take the vaccine to reach immunity.”
While the disease is more prevalent among gay and bisexual men, a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity does not put them at higher risk of infection; close contact to an infected person puts them at greater risk of infection. Taking precautions like avoiding skin-to-skin contact with people who have symptoms, avoiding contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used and washing your hands often can lessen your chances of contracting the disease.
“It is of utmost importance that we supply these vaccines and other resources to ensure access and availability to those that may not otherwise have access to these resources. We want to normalize prevention as a part of self-care,” said Tamara Stephney, chief operating officer, Abounding Prosperity Inc. and executive director, HOPE Health and Wellness Center. “We must continue to be at the forefront and respond aggressively and quickly to public health issues that affect our community just as we have responded to HIV, COVID-19, STIs and now monkeypox. Integrating these types of services allows us to expand our prevention efforts, thereby increasing positive community health and wellness outcomes.”
From the silly to the sublime, to the serious, faster than the mind can cogitate, our societal norms are being manipulated from the “as expected” to the “never in a million years.” Reflecting on what is presented to the masses daily, I can recall a time when a television series like “The Real Housewives (‘of anywhere’)…” could never have been shown and pimple popping would have been done in the privacy of one’s own bathroom, but no longer.
Frivolity is often the trademark of a “who would have believed” event, but now, more often than not, rather than leaving us amused they leave us shocked, and in dismay and disbelief. The current trend in these events has us questioning how we might provide for increased security and safety for our families and ourselves.
Who would have believed a time during which the seriousness of a public health crisis in the form of a global pandemic would be denied? Can anyone explain when, in the face of such a pandemic, personal interests and comfort became paramount over the interests of the general state of health? Most assuredly, few people could have anticipated this “denial” state of mind among such large numbers of people or that the disease would take the lives of over 900,000 Americans. My bet is that even fewer people could have also guessed the massive
rejection of life saving vaccines. In stark contrast to the current pandemic, the 1950s battle against polio was a lesson in cooperative discipline. With the exception of general masking, Americans practiced extreme social distancing. In his book, Paralyzed with Fear: The Story of Polio, Gareth Williams wrote, “Fearful of the spread of the contagious virus, the city (San Angelo, TX) closed pools, swimming holes, movie theaters, schools and churches, forcing priests to reach out to their congregations on local radio. Some motorists who had to stop for gas in San Angelo would not fill up their deflated tires, afraid they’d bring home air containing the infectious virus. And one of the town’s best physicians di- agnosed his patients based on his “clinical impression” rather than taking the chance of getting infected during the administration of the proper diagnostic test.”
When Jonas Salk released his vaccine in 1955, he was immediately described as a “miracle worker” and, because he did not patent his vaccine, it was universally welcomed and produced in the United States and the world. Acceptance of his vaccine was so widespread that by1980, Polio had been eliminated in the United States.
One must also ask, who would have believed a time in which the history of Black Americans is being openly erased from the curriculum of America’s public schools and from the conscience of the nation? Although barely taught, the instruction of Black History is under assault. It is erroneously labeled as Critical Race Theory and the new threshold of general acceptance is that it is presented in a manner which does not cause “guilt” or “discomfort” to the listener.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, father of Black History, said, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” He added, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” For now, the vigilant see psychological eradication as the goal. Will the physical follow?
I guess nothing should surprise us as people now flock to certain gas stations for dinner!
BlackPressUSA By Analysis by Chris Cillizza | The Atlanta Voice
Former President Donald Trump has done a whole lot of harm to America over the last five years — most notably by stoking the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
But, last week, he did something genuinely good. In an interview with conservative commentator Candace Owens, Trump not only rejected her claims that “more people have died” since the Covid-19 vaccine became available but also delivered a clear argument for people to get vaccinated.
“No, the vaccine worked,” Trump said. “But some people aren’t taking it. The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don’t take their vaccine.” He added: “People aren’t dying when they take their vaccine.”
This is, of course, exactly right. Study after study has shown that three Covid-19 vaccine doses continue to do a very good job of protecting you from hospitalization and death — even from the Omicron variant that is sweeping the country.
But, it is also very important for Trump to state that fact because the numbers also show that not only are Republicans far less likely to have been vaccinated than Democrats, but they are also less mindful of the risks the virus poses to them.
Now, it’s very much worth noting here that Trump could have been a more forceful public advocate for vaccines and boosters far earlier. And that by weaponizing the virus (as well as masking) for political gain, he bears at least some responsibility for the Republican refusers of the vaccine.
As CNN’s Zach Wolf noted earlier this month: “Blue states that voted for President Joe Biden are generally more than 60% vaccinated. Red states that went for former President Donald Trump are generally under that average.”
It’s not clear whether Trump defending vaccines is even enough to change the minds of some of his most ardent supporters. The former President was booed earlier this week when he acknowledged he had received a booster and the issue has, for many of the unvaccinated, been turned in a political matter rather than a public health one.
Covid and its latest variant, Omicron, know no boundaries.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), said on Friday, December 31, 2021, that she tested positive for Covid-19.
The congresswoman said she’s experiencing mild symptoms.
“After experiencing Covid-like symptoms, this morning I received a positive, breakthrough Covid-19 test result,” Congresswoman Pressley said in a statement.
“Thankfully, my symptoms are relatively mild, and I am grateful to be fully vaccinated and boosted. I am currently isolating and following all health protocols in order to mitigate further spread and keep my loved ones and community safe.”
The fully vaccinated Congresswoman maintained that vaccines save lives.
“They are safe and effective,” the congresswoman stated.
“I encourage everyone to do their part by getting vaccinated, boosted and masking up.”
The congresswoman counts among several lawmakers to recently test positive, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Congressman Jason Crow (D-Colorado), Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) Congressman Bobby Rush (D-Illinois), and Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.).
You may have heard that finding COVID-19 tests has become about as difficult as finding toilet paper was in March 2020.
The recent surge in cases is also affecting the level of interest in receiving COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
In September, the Dallas County Health and Human Services Fair Park vaccination site administered 2,188 vaccine doses. In October, that trend remained fairly steady with 2,552 doses. In November, the number soared to 8,732 and then to 11,561 for December.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in interest both in those already vaccinated and eligible for a booster as well as unvaccinated individuals wanting their first dose,” said Dr. Joseph Ventimiglia, who practices in Dallas for Village Medical, which plans to open 20 primary care practices at Walgreens stores in Dallas next year.
Dallas County Health and Human Services partnered with Walmart to offer a pop-up vaccination clinic at the North Cockrell Hill Road Walmart on Wednesday. People were offered a $25 Walmart gift card for getting either their first or second dose or booster, and the line wrapped around outside the store.
“A family of four could walk away with a $200 Walmart gift card by the end of their second doses,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
Jenkins said the county has plenty of vaccines in stock. The impetus that drives a vaccine holdout to get vaccinated can vary, he said, in the same way that sometimes it takes a relative getting lung cancer before someone decides to quit smoking.
“There is still a substantial chunk of the population not vaccinated, and they’re getting COVID over and over again, so if they’re tired of getting COVID they may want to get vaccinated,” he said.
As of the week ending on Dec. 18, 79% of Dallas County residents age 18 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 62% were fully vaccinated.
County health director Philip Huang said the county is seeing an increase in demand for vaccines and is prepared to meet that demand. Previously, the county scaled down because demand had dropped so much, he said. For example, the Fair Park vaccination site is open just one day a week.
The county will offer two more pop-ups this weekend — also with $25 gift cards for those who get vaccinated. On Jan. 2, there will be a site at the Seagoville Flea Market along U.S. Highway 175 from 1-4 p.m. There is also one on Jan. 1 from 12-4 p.m. at a Walmart in Grand Prairie, but this one will be short-staffed and is expecting “a good number of individuals returning for their second dose,” the county said.
“There was some complacency in those with two doses because the delta variant had abated a bit, but this surge has created a new sense of urgency,” he said.
Dallas County’s current daily average reported cases has seen a 382% increase over the past two weeks. About 68% of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in the most recent week in Dallas County were residents who weren’t fully vaccinated, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services data.
A booster shot increases antibody levels and can be administered six months after the second Pfizer or Moderna shot or two months after the Johnson & Johnson shot. All adults are eligible for boosters, and recent studies from The Lancet peer-reviewed medical journal found that the Moderna booster raised antibodies 32-fold. Pfizer says its booster raises antibodies by 25-fold.
“Your immune response goes up quite a bit with a booster, and with this new variant and those still to come, you want to keep your antibodies as high as possible,” Ventimiglia said. “It’s just good, common sense.”
Village Medical sees vaccinated people get the COVID-19 virus, but none have become gravely ill thanks to the protection offered by the vaccine, he said.
In Dallas County, 21,890 cases of COVID-19 breakthrough COVID-19 infections in fully vaccinated individuals have been confirmed to date, of which 779 (3.6%) were hospitalized and 208 have died due to COVID-19.
There’s also been increased interest from people in their 20s and 30s who hadn’t gotten around to getting the vaccine because they knew they weren’t high risk, Ventimigilia said.
Village Medical is still seeing patients who “unfortunately are choosing to believe some misinformation out there about vaccines and are reluctant on that basis,” he said.
While finding COVID-19 tests has become a national problem, patients haven’t had trouble finding vaccine appointments, he said.
“Thankfully we planned ahead even before the delta surge to create systems where anybody who wants a vaccine can get it,” he said.
Vaccination options in Dallas County
Vaccines.gov shows that North Texas residents can find vaccination appointments at places such as CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Kroger and Tom Thumb Pharmacy.
A Walgreens spokesperson told The News that it offers COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters in its more than 9,000 store locations and operates more than 7,200 COVID-19 testing locations in the U.S. At least 10 locations in the Dallas metro area offer vaccinations, they said.
Demand for both services is seeing “unprecedented demand,” so patients should make vaccination appointments online or through the Walgreens app for the best experience, they said.
For Walgreens, the soonest a first dose vaccination appointment was available within 25 miles of Dallas was Tuesday, Jan. 4.
A CVS Health spokesperson said the company had administered more than 41 million COVID-19 tests and 50 million COVID-19 vaccines.
The company encourages patients to make a vaccination appointment ahead of time at CVS.com, on the CVS app or at MinuteClinic.com, to identify locations with the vaccine type they are looking for and schedule a convenient time and location up to two weeks in advance, the spokesperson said.
Same-day or walk-in vaccination appointments may be possible but are subject to local demand, the spokesperson said.
For CVS, the nearest available date for a first vaccination dose within 25 miles of Dallas was Monday, Jan. 3.
Dallas County Health and Human Services has five immunization clinics in Dallas, Farmers Branch and Irving that are administering first, second and booster doses for adults and first and second doses for children 5 years old and older with parental consent.
As of Dec. 30, the soonest available appointment time for a first dose of the vaccine at a Dallas County Health and Human Services clinic was Jan. 2. If you try to book an appointment before then, it says “capacity overflow” and indicates that a special code is required to sign up for an earlier date.
Dallas County Health and Human Services also offers vaccinations at two parking lot sites.
The first is at Dallas College Eastfield Campus in parking lots 8 and 9 from Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. This location is currently closed through Jan. 3 for the holidays.
The second location is at Fair Park in lot 13 and is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be open on Jan. 2.
All Dallas County Health and Human Services vaccination sites offer the $25 Walmart gift card incentive while supplies last.
Where to check for vaccine availability in North Texas
Upcoming pop-up vaccine events (no appointment required)
Jan. 1 at the Walmart Supercenter in Grand Prairie, 2225 W. Interstate 20, Grand Prairie, TX 75052, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. (this one will be short-staffed and is already expecting a number of patients returning for their second dose, so patients are encouraged to find another site)
Jan. 2 at the flea market in Seagoville, 13950 U.S. Hwy 175, Seagoville, 75159, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Dallas County Health and Human Services immunization clinic locations (appointment only):
Date/time: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
DCHHS Stemmons Immunization Clinic
2377 N. Stemmons Freeway, #159 (first floor), Dallas 75207
Oak Cliff Branch Immunization Clinic
1113 E. Jefferson Boulevard, Suite 200, Dallas 75203
John West Branch Immunization Clinic
3312 N. Buckner Boulevard, Suite 200, Dallas 75228
The omicron variant of the coronavirus is officially in Texas. A 40-year-old woman in Harris County with no recent travel history tested positive for the variant, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a tweet on Monday.
Experts say the spread of the variant, which is in at least 19 U.S. states, is unsurprising. Scientists in South Africa have evidence that the omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the delta variant in that country.
Still, there’s no reason to panic, said Catherine Troisi, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “We need to protect ourselves, and we have ways of doing that,” she said.
One of the best ways to prevent the spread of any COVID-19 variant is to get vaccinated, Troisi said. Here’s where to get your vaccine or vaccine booster in North Texas:
Dallas County Health and Human Services has several clinics offering the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as booster doses for eligible adults. Detailed information about those clinics and how to make an appointment can be found here.
Vaccinations are also available through doctor’s offices and pharmacies in all North Texas counties and can be located here.
Appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations through Collin County’s health care services can be found here.
In order to get an appointment at a Denton County vaccine clinic, you have to register at the county’s vaccine interest portal. Once registered, you will receive an invitation to self-schedule an appointment.