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How little we know about COVID-19

Virtually every passing day demonstrates to us that we don’t know enough about COVID-19 to combat the virus effectively. Research on it — and on identifying other emerging disease threats — needs to be a higher priority.

At the very top of the action list should be how the coronavirus affects racial minorities. We know in our country that Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans have been more vulnerable than whites to the disease.

A report released last Friday adds urgency to finding answers about that. It came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which investigated children who require hospitalization because of COVID-19.

Black children have been hospitalized five times more frequently than whites, CDC researchers found. Hispanic children are even more vulnerable, with a hospitalization rate eight times that of white youngsters.

We know the disease affects children in general far less severely than adults, especially older men and women with pre-existing conditions. Children who require hospitalization to treat COVID-19 clearly are in great peril, then.

Friday’s report was a “gut punch,” Carrie Henning-Smith, a University of Minnesota researcher, told The Associated Press.

Indeed it was — heart-wrenchingly so.

We don’t know why COVID-19 affects minorities more severely than whites. Race may not be the only factor involved. Everything from socio-economic status to diet, from access to health care to proximity to COVID-19 hot spots, needs to be investigated.

Regarding the children, we know all we need to in order to make safeguarding them a priority in research:

They’re kids. We’re supposed to protect them.

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