The communities we forget during COVID-19

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Good afternoon, readers.

It’s starting to become clear that the coronavirus afflicts certain communities more than others. We’re still learning plenty about COVID-19, an insidious and complicated disease, but it still seems that older people and those with underlying cardiac or respiratory conditions, as well as those with diabetes, face a heavier risk.

People of color have been facing particular danger in these times, according to Johns Hopkins, with a significantly higher mortality rate compared to white Americans.

Those are complex and interconnected issues given the various factors which have brought us to this point. The late Bernard Tyson, who led the nonprofit health group Kaiser Permanente up until his untimely death last year, often spoke about the social determinants of health.

Society and the laws which govern it have a profound effect on the wellbeing of various communities, whether they be policies that restrict access to adequate health care or those that force them to live in regions with poor air quality and a dearth of healthy food options.

But the complexities of a pathogen spread further. And that includes Americans with the rarest of diseases.

I had the privilege of speaking with Leeann Fortenberry, alongside several representatives from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, about the unique challenges facing this rare disease community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leeann’s daughter, Faith, has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a muscle-wasting disorder, and the coronavirus has thrown new complications into their lives.

The good news is that patient groups are taking creative tacts to tackle the situation, especially when it comes to drug development for neuromuscular disorders. These are some of the people it’s important to keep in mind during these difficult times.

Read on for the day’s news, and see you again next week.

Sy Mukherjee
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com
@the_sy_guy

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