Habari Gani: A Focus on Recent Events

COVID Variants
© [flyalone] / Adobe Stock

By Makheru Bradley

September 13, 2021 11:15AM
Makheru Bradley

We titled this series Habari Gani, a Kiswahili term we use during Kwanzaa, translated as “What’s New”, or “What is the News?” Our intent is to cover recent events that impact Afrikan people.

The latest on COVID-19 – the Mu variant is here
They are going to run out of Greek alphabets. The World Health Organization has designated variants Eta, Iota, Kappa, and Lambda “variants of interest” and is tracking 13 additional variants that originated in the US, Brazil, the Philippines, Indonesia, Colombia, and other nations.

Live Science reported: Health officials are watching another new coronavirus variant, dubbed "mu," which they say has concerning mutations that could allow it to escape vaccine-induced immunity.

The variant, also known as B.1.621, was first detected in Colombia in January 2021, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). On August 30, the WHO classified it as a "variant of interest," or VOI, and named it mu. Early data in lab dishes show that antibodies generated in response to COVID-19 vaccination or previous infection are less able to "neutralize," or bind to and disable, the mu variant, the report said. So far, the mu variant has been detected in 39 countries, including in some large outbreaks in South America and Europe.

The variant has also been detected in the U.S. — a study from the University of Miami detected the variant in 9% of cases at the Jackson Memorial Health System in Miami. Exactly how transmissible mu is has not been determined, but Public Health England recently noted that the variant doesn't seem to be spreading particularly rapidly, and that it appears "unlikely" to be more transmissible than the delta variant. As a result "there is no indication that [mu] is out-competing delta" at this time, the agency said in a risk assessment of the variant. But the variant's ability to escape vaccine-induced immunity "may contribute to future changes in growth."

Mecklenburg County Public Health COVID-19 Report
As of September 1 there were 137,118 cases of COVID-19 with 1,072 deaths due to COVID-19 reported among Mecklenburg County residents.

Almost all deaths were among older adults (≥ 60 years), 21 deaths occurred in adults ages 20 to 39 and 156 deaths were adults ages 40 to 59.

All deaths, except twenty-nine, occurred among adults with underlying chronic illnesses.

Almost half were non-Hispanic Whites. The disparity in COVID-19 deaths among non-Hispanic Whites is related to differences in race/ethnicity of residents of long-term care facilities actively experiencing an outbreak.

Nearly 40 percent of deaths were connected to active outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

Among deaths not connected to outbreaks at long-term care facilities, nearly 2 in 3 were non-White, with 40 percent being non-Hispanic Black. As previously noted, these disparities are largely driven by higher rates of underlying chronic conditions that increase risk of severe complications due to COVID-19 infection among these communities.

Mecklenburg County COVID-19 deaths by race: White—44.8%; Black—38.4%; Hispanic—12.4%; Asian—3.1%; Alaskan Native/American Indian— less than 1.0%

Mecklenburg County Zip Codes with highest COVID-19 cases
MCPH Aug 19—September 1 report:

28269: 590
28078: 538
28215: 520
28227: 460
28216: 443
28277: 373
28214: 347
28208: 343
Renaming Charlotte’s streets
As Black neighborhoods in Charlotte are being gentrified, city leaders are changing the names of streets that honored white supremacists and enslavers of Afrikan people.

Part of my adolescence was spent in the Druid Hills community. I often wondered why was there a street in our segregated neighborhood named for Confederate president Jefferson Davis. I supposed, as I grew into Black Power consciousness, that those street names were designed to constantly remind us of that the more things changed, the more they remained the same. Jefferson Davis Street will be renamed Druid Hills Way.

The name of Phifer Avenue is also being changed to Montford Point Street in honor of the North Carolina base where Black marines trained during the American Apartheid-era.

Per historians, William Phifer, who came to Charlotte in 1852, enslaved nearly 30 Afrikans. Phifer's house was located at 700 North Tryon Street. Jefferson Davis reportedly led the last meeting of the complete Confederate Cabinet there on April 26, 1865.

As I have often noted, the Confederates lost the Civil War, but they won the aftermath by overthrowing Reconstruction, and installing a new system of white supremacy—American Apartheid, also known as Jim Crow. The white supremacists of the Apartheid-era honored their fallen Civil War heroes with statues, with their names on public institutions and streets.

Within the last five years, protests against those symbols of white supremacy have led to the removal of some statues and to the renaming of some institutions and streets. What’s interesting is that the renaming of some streets in Charlotte comes at a time when many of Charlotte’s Black neighborhoods are being heavily gentrified. Where are the city’s leaders on that issue?

For more from the author, follow his blog Makheru Speaks.

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