Frances “Toni” Draper, AFRO CEO and Publisher

By Dr. Frances “Toni” Murphy Draper
AFRO CEO and Publisher

Recently, I heard a comedian say that, in spite of the barrage of COVID-19 warnings and restrictions, he’d done a lot of traveling this past year – from his bedroom to his refrigerator, from his refrigerator to his home office, from his home office to his refrigerator (again) and back to his bedroom. I can relate as I’m sure many of us can.  In fact, many of us are lamenting extra COVID pounds.  According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association:

  • A majority of adults (61%) reported experiencing undesired weight changes since the start of the pandemic, with more than 2 in 5 (42%) saying they gained more weight than they intended. Of this group, adults reported gaining an average of 29 pounds (with a typical gain of 15 pounds, which is the median).
  • Two in 3 Americans (67%) said they are sleeping more or less than they wanted to since the pandemic started. Similar proportions reported less (35%) and more (31%) sleep than desired. Nearly 1 in 4 adults (23%) reported drinking more alcohol to cope with their stress during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Nearly half of Americans (47%) said they delayed or canceled health care services, since the pandemic started.
  • Nearly half of parents (48%) said the level of stress in their life has increased compared with before the pandemic. More than 3 in 5 parents with children who are still home for remote learning (62%) said the same.
  • Essential workers were more than twice as likely as those who are not to have received treatment from a mental health professional (34% vs. 12%) and to have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder since the coronavirus pandemic started (25% vs. 9%).
  • Black Americans were most likely to report feelings of concern about the future. More than half said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends (57% vs. 51% Asian, 50% Hispanic and 47% white).
  • Gen Z adults – 21-24 year olds — (46%) were the most likely generation to say that their mental health has worsened compared with before the pandemic, followed by Xers (33%), Millennials (31%), Boomers (28%) and older adults (9%).

In other words, the ongoing pandemic has taken a devastating toll on all of us – especially those of us of African descent. And, it is a well-known fact, due to a variety of factors – including the proliferation of food deserts, that many of us are predisposed to comorbidities such as hypertension and diabetes, which complicate recovery from COVID.  We join CareFirst, Johns Hopkins, the Maryland Department of Health and so many others in encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. 

This entire edition is devoted to “Maintaining Our Health “and our editors, writers, production and advertising teams have worked tirelessly to produce content that is both engaging and informative: from intimate stories of COVID survivors to stories highlighting western medicine, home remedies and traditional healing; from accounts of the mishandling of  the pandemic to the inspiring story of  the new Roberta’s House; from a review of the different COVID vaccines to the reality that racial inequities are still very much a part of us. These stories are informative, engaging and in some cases challenging. We’re Still Here!