The New York Police Department announced it has created a specific task force to deal with the rise in hate crimes against the Asian American community amid the coronavirus pandemic.
What We Know:
- Since the pandemic took over the United States in March, there have been a reported 21 anti-Asian hate crimes, leading to 17 arrests, which Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said is higher than normal. “This increase was cultivated due to the anti-Asian rhetoric about the virus that was publicized and individuals began to attack Asian New Yorkers, either verbal attack or physical assault,” Harrison said. “We saw a spike in every borough throughout the city.”
- Harrison shared that while the current Hate Crimes Task Force was investigating the crimes, a specialized team was seen as necessary because sometimes victims wouldn’t follow up in the investigation or with investigators due to language barriers, cultural differences, and fear of the police.
- Deputy Inspector Stewart Loo proposed the task force during the city’s most significant spike in hate crimes, which was back in May. Loo said that right now, the team has 25 Asian American officers who speak multiple languages, which will hopefully allow them to develop a rapport with victims without using a translator. “I’m here to say without question with this task force that we do care, and the NYPD is doing everything they can for the Asian American community,” Loo said
- Loo shared that he knew a new task force needed to be created after he and other police observed a “very disturbing trend” online of videos being shared that showed physical violence or verbal assaults against the Asian Americans, adding that they “actively searched” for victims who hadn’t reported the crimes against them. “This wasn’t just a New York City phenomenon; it was worldwide,” Loo said. “This hit home for me because I have friends, family who are legitimately afraid to go outside because they fear for their safety.”
- Discrimination and hate crimes against Asian Americans has been on the rise across the United States since COVID-19 began spreading across the nation. A website, “Stop AAPI Hate,” was launched on March 19 and includes a tool to self-report harassment, discrimination, and violent attacks. By mid-May, it recorded nearly 1,900 incidents of anti-Asian discrimination across the country. That number is thought to be much higher and only a fraction of the true total because, statistically, less than half of hate crime victims ever report.
- In a statement released by Asian Americans for Equality, co-executive directors Jennifer Sun and Thomas Yu said that far more has to be done to combat the attacks and violence against the Asian American community, that together we need to address the root cause of racism and work to mitigate the health disparities in communities of color that have become extremely evident during the pandemic. “We applaud the NYPD for creating this task force and believe it can only help to have officers who speak the language and know our communities dedicated to investigating hate crimes against Asian Americans,” the statement read. “At the same time, Asian Americans in New York City and nationwide have now been subjected to months of physical violence and racist tirades.”
The NYPD confirmed the new task force will be permanent and said similar culture-based task forces will be considered.
U.S. May Approve COVID-19 Booster Shots at 6 Months
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing booster data from vaccine manufacturers and other countries given at 6 months.
What We Know:
- An unnamed source told the Wall Street Journal the boosters would be approved for all three COVID-19 vaccines administered in the US- Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. In addition, they declared approval would come in mid-September.
- The information comes after officials reported that booster shots would become available to some adults 8 months after their last dose beginning on September 20. These include healthcare providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors. However, booster rollout depends on FDA approval and recommendation from a key Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outside vaccine advisory committee.
- Officials want people to receive the third dosage because of the current rise in Delta strain cases. Studies show that the coronavirus vaccine loses potency after several months. Additionally, the Delta strain currently holds the highest number of infections among vaccinated and unvaccinated people; despite this, those who obtained the vaccine experience milder breakthrough infections.
- In addition, the CDC and FDA urge citizens to receive vaccinations as hospitalizations rise once more. Recently, the U.S. saw 100,000 people hospitalized, a number only seen since before vaccines were easily accessible. A third of the country’s hospitalizations come from states with low vaccination rates, large populations, and governors who disagree with vaccine and mask mandates, such as Texas and Florida. As of Aug. 25, Texas saw 23,412 new daily cases, 248 deaths, and 14,000 hospitalizations. On that same date, Florida saw 26,203 positive cases, 9 fatalities, and 17,000 hospitalizations.
Alongside more hospitalizations, daily numbers are also creeping back up. On Aug. 25, the U.S. saw 148,000 new cases, only 3,000 less than Jan. 30’s report. In contrast, deaths from COVID-19 waned since January, dropping from 3,100 a day to 1,100 a day.
FDA grants full approval to Pfizer’s Covid vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine Monday for people ages 16 and up, making it the first Covid-19 vaccine to pass this final regulatory hurdle.
“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “While millions of people have already safely received Covid-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.”
What We Know:
- The FDA’s decision may also pave the way for more vaccination mandates: Many businesses were waiting for full approval before they required employees to be vaccinated.
“Full approval could not come at a more important time, as the highly contagious delta variant continues to drive up caseloads and deaths across the U.S.,” the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement. “I am hopeful that full approval will address any remaining concerns and will move many people to a ‘yes’ on vaccination.”
- Besser said the lack of vaccines in middle- and low-income countries “represents a global failure,” adding, “Ensuring an adequate supply of vaccines in every country and community must be a health, economic, and moral imperative for the world.”
- Federal health officials announced that, starting September 20th, people who received the Pfizer vaccine will be eligible for third doses eight months after their second doses. The FDA has not yet signed off a third dose. No Covid vaccines have been authorized or approved for use in children under 12, though this is expected to change soon with FDA approval.
Pfizer’s vaccine is one of three in use in the U.S. Moderna has also applied for full approval, also known as a Biologics Licensing Application. Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for full approval, and remains in use under emergency authorization.
Pfizer’s product was the first Covid vaccine to gain emergency use authorization, in December. As of Monday, more than 203 million doses have been given in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Reverend Jesse Jackson and His Wife, Jacqueline, Hospitalized with COVID-19
Reverend Jesse Jackson and his wife Jacqueline are currently being treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
What We Know:
- News about the couple’s diagnosis became public after a statement released by the Reverend’s Rainbow/Push Coalition on Saturday. In the statement, officials declared that doctors were monitoring both Jesse and Jacqueline; it did not provide any further information.
- However, their son, Jonathan, provided more information on Sunday. Jonathan told the Associated Press that doctors are carefully observing Jesse and Jacqueline because of their ages. Additionally, the two responded “positively” to treatments and were resting. On Monday, Jonathan said his parents’ status did not change and asked for prayers for the two,
- Despite his hospitalization, Jesse received his first coronavirus vaccine dosage in January 2021 during a publicized event. Alongside obtaining protection against the disease, he urged his followers to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. The Associated Press reported that it is unclear if Jacqueline also got the vaccine.
- Underlying health concerns might have been the cause for both of them catching COVID-19. Family members said Jacqueline had an unspecified condition which made them concerned recently. In addition, Jesse was diagnosed in 2015 with Parkinson’s disease and underwent gallbladder surgery earlier this year.
- Rev. Jesse Jackson worked with mentor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in moving the Civil Rights Movement forward. His impact helped guide the movement on numerous issues, such as voting rights. After the movement and even currently, Jesse continued working to make a change in his society. Police recently arrested Jesse for civil disobedience after participating in a sit-in at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema‘s Phoenix office with 39 others.
Black News Alerts prays that Jesse and Jacqueline make a speedy recovery and continue inspiring many.