Hospitalized People Can Still Vote in Most Parts of the Country | Healthiest Communities

Johnathon Talamantes, of South-Central Los Angeles, broke his hip in a car accident on Oct. 22 and underwent surgery five days later at a public hospital near downtown.

His post-op recovery will keep him in the hospital, L.A. County+USC Medical Center, beyond Election Day, and as he prepared himself for the surgery, he wondered what that would mean.

“One of the first things I asked my nurse this morning was, ‘Oh, how am I going to vote?'” Talamantes, 30, said from his hospital bed the day before the operation.

He initially thought of asking his mom to rummage through a pile of papers at the home he shares with her and bring him the mail-in ballot that he, like all registered California voters, received for this election.

But then staffers at LAC+USC told him about another option: They could help him get an emergency ballot and cast his vote without having to get out of bed. So Talamantes told his mom not to bother.

“I don’t want her coming down here, because of the COVID restrictions,” he said.

California law protects the rights of voters who are in the hospital or other care facilities, or confined at home. It allows them to get help from anyone they choose — other than an employer or a union representative — and to cast an emergency ballot.

In some states, only family members can assist hospitalized patients with voting from the hospital.

Photos: Will They Vote For Trump, Again?

Scott Rice sits in his living room watching a Fox News Channel interview with President Donald Trump in Appleton, Wis., Aug. 20, 2020. Nothing can shake Rice's faith that Trump will save the U.S. economy, not seeing businesses close or friends furloughed, not even his own hellish bout with the coronavirus. But in Appleton, a city of 75,000 people along the Fox River, the health of economy isn't judged on jobs numbers, personal bank accounts or union contracts. Instead, it's viewed through partisan lenses, filtered through the facts voters want to see and hear, and those they don't. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In California, New York and several other states, hospital employees and volunteers can help a patient complete an emergency ballot application. They can pick up the ballot for the patient and deliver the finished ballot back to the election office or deposit it in an official drop box.

In 18 states, the law allows local election boards to send representatives directly to patients’ bedsides, though six of those states have canceled that service this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. Kelly Wong, founder of Patient Voting, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing turnout among registered voters unexpectedly hospitalized around election time.

The group’s website features an interactive map of the United States with state-by-state information on voting while in the hospital. It also allows patients to check whether they are registered to vote.

Wong, an emergency room resident at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, recalled that when she was a medical student working in an ER, patients who were about to be admitted to the hospital would tell her, “‘I can’t be admitted; I have let the dogs out, or I’m the sole caretaker of my grandmother.'” Then during the election of 2016, she heard, “‘I can’t stay. I have to go vote.'”

“That really caught my attention,” Wong said. She did research and learned patients could vote in the hospital using an emergency ballot — something none of her co-workers knew. “Our patients don’t know this, she said. “It should be our job to tell them.”

Some U.S. hospitals have been

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Pregnant Women Should Be Extra Careful Against COVID-19 | Healthiest Communities

A recent story in The Washington Post reported on the more than 700 women who’d tested positive for the novel coronavirus and given birth at the BYL Nair Charity Hospital in Mumbai, India. The hospital is a part of a group called PregCovid, which collects data regarding pregnancy and COVID-19.

Here in the United States, health departments reporting cases of COVID-19 during pregnancy to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can provide additional information to help us understand its effects during this critical period in a woman’s – and her child’s – life. Yet despite the growing pool of data about the coronavirus, our understanding of the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women remains limited, which is troubling given that many states are struggling with the pandemic and the high stakes involved for mothers.

While researchers continue to collect and interpret available data, it is important that pregnant women be especially vigilant to protect themselves and their babies, including by – at minimum – taking basic precautions such as practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

As an infectious disease physician who recently gave birth to my new daughter, being pregnant during the coronavirus pandemic posed significant challenges both physically and intellectually. In my field, we practice evidence-based medicine, but with the novel coronavirus, we continue to learn more each day and to update our recommendations based on new information. For now, the evidence indicates that the best tools to help contain the spread of COVID-19 are social distancing and mask-wearing.

As states have opened up and restrictions have been relaxed, however, people may believe that the risks posed by the coronavirus are diminished and go about their lives without taking these precautions. Doing so may be particularly dangerous for pregnant women: Data published in a CDC report just this week found that expectant mothers with symptomatic COVID-19 were more likely than other infected women to end up in the ICU, to require invasive ventilation and to die.

In addition, the coronavirus may cause poor pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth. While the CDC may update its information as more becomes available, these possibilities are concerning.

Meanwhile, one of the growing hopes to prevent the coronavirus’ spread is a vaccine. Yet the release of one may not be a panacea for pregnant women, who have been excluded from clinical trials. Given this, it will take some time before we understand if these vaccines are safe for mothers and their babies, so pregnant women may be advised against getting a vaccine should one otherwise become available.

Expectant mothers who previously had COVID-19 also aren’t necessarily in the clear, as the current science is still evolving regarding immunity from COVID-19 once a person has recovered from the disease. Though rare, there have been cases of people reportedly becoming reinfected, and even a recent reported case of someone who died after reinfection.

Given the potential risk associated with the virus, some health care professionals have separated moms from their newborns

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Compass Health Building Communities of Hope Gala Raises More Than $165,000 to Benefit Child, Youth and Family Behavioral Health Services

The virtual event, held on World Mental Health Day, brought together community members and honored client voices and stories

Compass Health’s Building Communities of Hope Gala raised more than $165,000 in support of the organization’s child, youth and family behavioral health services during a virtual event held on World Mental Health Day, Saturday, October 10, 2020.

Funds exceeded Compass Health’s goals by $15,000, as more than 250 community members gathered virtually to celebrate client voices and stories, even forming socially distant “watch parties” while the event was streamed online. Organizers attribute the support, in part, to a greater recognition of the need for behavioral health resources as the community faces the impacts of COVID-19.

“We know that this year has been demanding in many ways – in fact, the pandemic has exacerbated the medical, educational, economic and social challenges that many of our families face – making community support more crucial than ever,” said Tom Sebastian, president and CEO of Compass Health. “It was thrilling and gratifying to see our community come together, and to watch our team innovate to create a meaningful shared experience while keeping everyone safe through a virtual format.”

One of the evening’s highlights included a video presentation led by Amanda, a Compass Health team member, and her son, who was a client of Compass Health’s WISe youth wraparound services. The video revealed that Amanda was so inspired by the treatment and care that her son received, that she joined the organization as a parent partner with WISe almost two years ago. During the video, Amanda and her son also shared how Compass Health has helped them navigate changes and develop important communication and coping skills.

“It was amazing to see the impact of sharing our story,” Amanda said. “As a parent partner, I know how important it is to destigmatize mental health, and the response to the video has been overwhelming. I’m particularly proud of my son, who really wanted to share with others that they’re not alone, and that Compass Health has been such a positive force in his life.”

Presented in part by Kaiser Permanente, First Interstate Bank, Genoa Healthcare and Integrated Telehealth Solutions, this year’s fundraiser benefits Compass Heath’s child, youth and family services. The primary beneficiaries are Compass Health’s Child and Family Outpatient Programs, Children’s Intensive Services / Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe), Camp Outside the Box, Camp Mariposa, Child Advocacy Program (CAP), and Compass Health’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program.

The robust list of programs supported by this year’s Gala exemplifies the range of services offered by the 118-year-old organization. With a focus on providing a full spectrum of accessible care, Compass Health’s child, family and youth programs are designed to promote positive changes in behavior, help the child and family learn appropriate coping skills, and improve communication skills including learning to resolve conflict and manage emotions in a healthy manner. In addition to honoring the family voice and choice, clinical services such as the Child Advocacy Program offer

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Scientists Can Detect COVID Outbreaks in Communities by Testing Sewage Samples

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Scientists have found another way to identify clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks in communities across the country.

According to a new report from CNN, researchers now test sewage for the coronavirus, checking the samples for signs of COVID-19 infections that often show up in human waste before people present symptoms. “It’s a leading indicator,” researcher Rosa Inchausti told the outlet. “The proof is in the poop.”

Mariana Matus, the CEO of Biobot Analytics, told CNN that testing sewage can often indicate a COVID outbreak before hospitals begin to crowd. Plus, the method can identify more infections since it doesn’t rely on individuals to submit to a COVID test — although the sewage method doesn’t flag sick people individually.

“People start shedding virus pretty quickly after they are infected and before they start showing symptoms,” said Matus, who added: “We are seeing an upturn in the wastewater data, which I think broadly matches what we are seeing across the country. It’s been interesting seeing this almost second wave.”

New U.S. infections have increased 41 percent in the last two weeks and hospitals in several states — primarily in the Midwest — are running out of ICU beds.

RELATED: More Than 40 States Have Spiking COVID Cases and Midwestern Hospitals Are ‘Struggling’ to Keep Up

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On Wednesday, the U.S. recorded the second-highest number of new infections in one day with 81,457, just below the all-time record of 85,085, set last Friday.

As of Thursday morning, more than 8.9 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 227,697 have died from the virus, according to The New York Times.

The White House’s head of coronavirus testing said that the record-breaking numbers of new infections in the U.S. are “real,” and not because of an increase in testing. Testing czar Admiral Brett Giroir confirmed that U.S. COVID-19 cases are rising.

RELATED: More Than 62,000 Used Masks and Gloves Found in Oceans and on Beach Shorelines: ‘A Significant Threat’

“Testing may be identifying some more cases, I think that’s clearly true, but what we’re seeing is a real increase in the numbers,” he told the Washington Post.

“Compared to the post-Memorial Day surge, even though testing is up, this is a real increase in cases,” he said. “We know that not only because the case numbers are up and we can calculate that, but we know that hospitalizations are going up.”

Giroir urged Americans to keep up hygiene practices, wear masks and social distance as the crisis could get worse. “We really have to reengage the public health measures that we know work or those hospitalizations can go up substantially,” he said.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information

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Empowering Faith Communities to Champion Black Health Equity Amid A Pandemic

Strengthen the capacity faith communities to understand the intersection of health, religion, race, and politics

RICHMOND, Va., Oct. 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Balm In Gilead Inc. is a leader in bringing public health and faith communities together to strategically address health disparities in the African American community. The Balm In Gilead Inc. will use its Annual Healthy Churches 2030 Conference (HC2030) to answer this call to action by bridging faith and healthcare to breakdown health disparities in the Black community. This one-of-a-kind virtual conference will equip African American faith-based institutions and public health professionals with the tools to confront racial inequities in healthcare and wellness programs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of building congregational health ministries within African American communities to offer rapid response to future public health crises. Healthy Churches 2030 Conference will examine the intersection and impact of health, religion, race, and politics on the lives of Black Americans.

Addressing the alarming rates of preexisting health conditions and lack of access to qualified medical professionals in African American communities, the conference will emphasize the urgent need to create locally accessible health and wellness programs. “The Black Health Agenda for the New Decade: The Intersection of Health, Religion, Race, and Politics,” the theme for this year’s conference, embodies the immediate need to confront health disparities and create prevention models within the Black community.

Participants will hear directly from some of the nation’s top public health officials, medical professionals, and faith leaders. This year’s Healthy Churches 2030 Conference speakers include:

  • Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Ph.D.; Clinician, Educator, Researcher, and Leader in Biopharmaceuticals and Life Sciences Industries

  • Dr. Kafui Dzirasa, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor and Resident Physician, Laboratory for Psychiatric Neuroengineering, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Neuroengineering, Duke University Medical Center

  • Rev. Dr. Delman L. Coates, Ph.D.; Pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD.

  • Rev. Dr. Shively T. J. Smith Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of New Testament at Boston University School of Theology

  • Dr. LaPrincess C. Brewer, MPH; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester MN

  • Dr. Sam Dagogo-Jack, D.Sc.; Professor of Medicine & Chief, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN

  • Dr. Keith C. Ferdinand, FACC, FAHA, FNLA, FASCP; Professor of Medicine at the Tulane University School of Medicine

  • Fred Hammond; Grammy award-winning artist, vocalist, songwriter, musician, producer, and arranger.

Speakers and presenters will share strategies, resources, and tools to strengthen the capacity of congregational health ministries across the United States to increase health prevention, disease management, and participation in clinical trials. “By building a nationwide network of health ministries within African American churches, The Balm In Gilead is actively diversifying the healthcare delivery model by transforming churches into local health hubs,” said Dr. Pernessa C. Seele, founder and CEO of The Balm In Gilead, Inc.  

The upcoming Healthy Churches 2030 Conference also features content from our elite sponsors. Diamond

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COVID Spikes Worsen Health Worker Shortages in Great Plains, Rocky Mountains | Healthiest Communities

COVID-19 cases are surging in rural places across the Mountain States and Midwest, and when it hits health care workers, ready reinforcements aren’t easy to find.

In Montana, pandemic-induced staffing shortages have shuttered a clinic in the state’s capital, led a northwestern regional hospital to ask employees exposed to COVID-19 to continue to work and emptied a health department 400 miles to the east.

“Just one more person out and we wouldn’t be able to keep the surgeries going,” said Dr. Shelly Harkins, chief medical officer of St. Peter’s Health in Helena, a city of roughly 32,000 where cases continue to spread. “When the virus is just all around you, it’s almost impossible to not be deemed a contact at some point. One case can take out a whole team of people in a blink of an eye.”

In North Dakota, where cases per resident are growing faster than any other state, hospitals may once again curtail elective surgeries and possibly seek government aid to hire more nurses if the situation gets worse, North Dakota Hospital Association President Tim Blasl said.

“How long can we run at this rate with the workforce that we have?” Blasl said. “You can have all the licensed beds you want, but if you don’t have anybody to staff those beds, it doesn’t do you any good.”

Photos: Daily Life, Disrupted

TOPSHOT - A passenger in an outfit (R) poses for a picture as a security guard wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus stands nearby on a last century-style boat, featuring a theatrical drama set between the 1920s and 1930s in Wuhan, in Chinas central Hubei province on September 27, 2020. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The northern Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and Upper Midwest are seeing the highest surge of COVID-19 cases in the nation, as some residents have ignored recommendations for curtailing the virus, such as wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings. Montana, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have recently ranked among the top 10 U.S. states in confirmed cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period, according to an analysis by The New York Times.

Such coronavirus infections — and the quarantines that occur because of them — are exacerbating the health care worker shortage that existed in these states well before the pandemic. Unlike in the nation’s metropolitan hubs, these outbreaks are scattered across hundreds of miles. And even in these states’ biggest cities, the ranks of medical professionals are in short supply. Specialists and registered nurses are sometimes harder to track down than ventilators, N95 masks or hospital beds. Without enough care providers, patients may not be able to get the medical attention they need.

Hospitals have asked staffers to cover extra shifts and learn new skills. They have brought in temporary workers from other parts of the country and transferred some patients to less-crowded hospitals. But, at St. Peter’s Health, if the hospital’s one kidney doctor gets sick or is told to quarantine, Harkins doesn’t expect to find a backup.

“We make a point to not have excessive staff because we have an obligation to keep the cost of health care down for a community — we just don’t have a lot of slack in our rope,” Harkins said. “What we don’t account for is a mass exodus

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Asking Never Hurts: Telemedicine or In-Person Visit? The Pros and Cons | Healthiest Communities

As COVID-19 took hold in March, U.S. doctors limited in-person appointments — and many patients avoided them — for fear of infection. The result was a huge increase in the volume of remote medical and behavioral health visits.

Doctors, hospitals and mental health providers across the country reported a 50- to 175-fold rise in the number of virtual visits, according to a report released in May by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

The COVID-fueled surge has tapered off as patients venture back to doctors’ offices. But medical professionals and health experts predict that when the pandemic is over, telehealth will still play a much larger role than before.

“There are still a few doubting Thomases, but now that we’ve run our practices this way for three months, people have learned that it’s pretty useful,” says Dr. Joseph Kvedar, president of the American Telemedicine Association and a practicing dermatologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

For patients, the advantages of telemedicine are clear: You typically can get an appointment sooner, in the safety of your own home or workplace, saving time and money on gas and parking — in some cases, even avoiding a loss in wages for missing work.

James Wolfrom, a 69-year-old retired postal executive in San Francisco, has had mostly virtual health care appointments since the pandemic started. He particularly appreciates the video visits.

“It’s just like I’m in the room with the doctor, with all of the benefits and none of the disadvantages of having to haul my body over to the facility,” says Wolfrom, who has Type 2 diabetes. “Even after the pandemic, I’m going to prefer doing the video conferencing over having to go there.”

Telemedicine also provides care for people in rural areas who live far from medical facilities.

The growth of virtual care has been facilitated by Medicare rule changes for the COVID-19 emergency, including one that reimburses doctors for telemedicine at the same rate as in-person care for an expanded list of services. State regulators and commercial health plans also loosened their telehealth policies.

In California, the Department of Managed Health Care, which regulates health plans covering the vast majority of the state’s insured residents, requires commercial plans and most Medi-Cal managed care plans during the pandemic to pay providers for telehealth at parity with regular appointments and limit cost sharing by patients to no more than what they would pay for in-person visits. Starting Jan. 1, a state law — AB-744 — will make that permanent for commercial plans.

Five other states — Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota and New Mexico — have pay-parity laws already in effect, according to Mei Wa Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy. Washington state has one that also will begin Jan. 1.

If you are planning a telehealth appointment, be sure to ask your health plan if it is covered and how much the copay or coinsurance will be. The appointment may be through your in-network provider or a

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For COVID Long Haulers, Knowledge and Empathy Are Key to a Cure | Healthiest Communities

What is also undeniable is how ill-prepared the health system seems to be to meaningfully help these COVID “long haulers” return to wellness. In fact, the presentation of this apparent post-viral syndrome has stumped experts and clinicians who have struggled to find guidance on how to treat the condition. This hard reality has prompted long haulers to create or join social media-based support groups in search of answers, advice or, at the very least, solidarity.

The question, then, is: Why are we so stumped by these post-COVID long haulers?

Many medical providers have not received training on how to diagnose or treat the types of complex multiorgan disease triggered through the disruption of immune, endocrine, nervous and cardiovascular systems. Moreover, this lack of training has perpetuated the stigma that ME/CFS and similar conditions are not real. This is aggravated by the lack of a diagnostic test and the fact that most of the usual medical tests, ordered for nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue, are likely to show no abnormalities.

Although these results can provide relief that the cause of a patient’s problems is not cancer or organ failure, the related “everything seems to be fine” talk minimizes the patients’ symptoms, invalidates their experiences and marks the beginning of a lonely road. Patients blame themselves for not shaking symptoms off. As time goes by, they may perceive or be outright told that their symptoms are psychological, implying they just need to try harder to feel better. Since ME/CFS appears to be an inflammatory brain condition that can also cause anxiety or depressive symptoms, many patients are referred to mental health services, reinforcing the perception that the problem must be “in their heads”.

To be sure, there is increasing recognition that treating post-COVID-19 syndrome will require biologic and holistic approaches, as well as extensive research. These insights have led to the creation of treatment centers to try to assist these patients. Experts have published management guidelines that can aid these centers.

However, initial approaches may create challenges. Although protocols that emphasize physical therapy and cardiovascular and respiratory rehabilitation offer a correct approach in general – particularly for those who were hospitalized – there are important caveats. Many patients with disabling symptoms will have normal respiratory and cardiac function, and related tests, although necessary, may not clarify the cause.

In addition, the traditional type of physical therapy recommended for ME/CFS by what is now considered a flawed study can backfire and make symptoms worse. In fact, research has shown that pacing is a pivotal component in the management of ME/CFS. Rehabilitation should be personalized, go slow and be monitored for relapse, recognizing that neuroinflammatory illness can “flame on” when pushed too hard.

As physicians and investigators ourselves, we understand the challenges of creating treatment guidelines in the absence of a significant body of research. However, while studies are being conducted, we ought to use the evidence that does exist on ME/CFS and related conditions, such as mast cell activation, to deploy the multidisciplinary

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‘The impact of work’: On-the-job coronavirus exposure a key driver in Black, Latino communities | Business News

Because it was a nice afternoon in March, Katrina Llorens Joseph and her husband Albert decided to sit outside for lunch at the Subway restaurant not far from City Park.

Afterward, she went back to her desk at the VA Hospital, and he got behind the wheel of a city bus.

“He dropped me off at work and then he went on to work,” she said.

As routine as the lunch was, it now seems like a fateful one to Joseph, 52. The couple had been very careful about isolating. She believes her husband, 53, came in contact with the virus that day at an emergency meeting with a bunch of other bus drivers. Within a few weeks, 1 in 8 Regional Transit Authority employees would test positive in a COVID-19 outbreak that led to the deaths of three workers.

Antonio Travis is 27 years old and the picture of health.

Days after that lunch, Albert Joseph left work early, suffering from fevers, chills and a high fever.

His wife snapped into action. “I figured he had the virus,” she said.

Katrina Joseph moved to the guest room. She began wearing a mask in the house, pulled out new toothbrushes for everyone, wiped down doorknobs, washed her hands and served food on paper plates.

Even so, the whole family became infected. For the next few weeks, the couple and their daughter, Danielle, 19, were all bedridden in separate rooms of their house in Chalmette. They spiked 104-degree fevers. Sometimes, they collapsed on the way to the bathroom. On four separate occasions, when fingertip monitors indicated dangerously low oxygen levels, they called 911, though the ambulances twice left empty.



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Albert Joseph, a bus driver for RTA, poses in his home in Chalmette, La., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. The Joseph family suffered coronavirus at the same time.




Once, paramedics took an oxygen-deficient Albert Joseph to the hospital for a four-hour stay. The second time, they carried out a very weak Katrina Joseph. She spent eight days in Ochsner Health Center in St. Bernard Parish, “lying there, knowing that I had this disease that was killing people all around me.”

The Josephs’ story is hardly unusual. But leading researchers say their experience and others like it offer a window into why the coronavirus has hit Black communities particularly hard across the nation. Many frontline workers who continued to work through the pandemic were exposed on the job and brought the virus home to infect entire households.

Workplace spread a driver

Within Louisiana, Blacks have accounted for nearly half of all COVID-19 deaths to date, despite making up a little less than a third of state residents. The biggest reason for the coronavirus’ cruel toll in Black communities seems to be its outsized infection rate there: when compared with White Louisiana residents, Black Louisianans have been three times as likely to contract the virus.



101120 Racialized Pandemic Work Risks

A new, much-discussed study concluded that the disproportionate spread in the Black community originates in

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