Posts tagged with "NPR"

Architect of the Capitol outlines $30 million In damages from pro-Trump insurrection

March 1, 2021

The cost of repairing damages caused by rioters during the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol—paired with investments to harden security there right afterward—already has spiraled to a number in excess of $30 million and will keep rising, Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton told lawmakers last week, NPR reports.

The events of January 6, he said, were “difficult for the American people and extremely hard for all of us on campus to witness.”

Blanton said that, to date, congressional appropriations committees have approved a transfer request of $30 million to pay for expenses and extend a temporary perimeter fencing contract through March 31.

But more money will be needed, he added: “History teaches us that project costs for replacements and repairs beyond in-kind improvements across campus will be considerable and beyond the scope of the current budgetary environment.”

The price tag will go even higher, Blanton told lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee, if the fence and other security measures are needed beyond March.

In his prepared testimony, Blanton described how his employees tried to minimize the threat to the Capitol and lawmakers on January 6, when thousands of former President Donald Trump’s supporters breached security perimeters at the Capitol grounds.

“[Architect of the Capitol] employees sheltered congressional staff in their shops to protect them from the roving mob,” Blanton said, adding, “Other members of our team raced to the roof to reverse the airflows within the building to help clear the air of chemical irritants, like bear repellents and pepper spray, while more team members rushed bottles of water and eyewash stations to Capitol Police officers in need of assistance.”

When the mob thronged the Capitol, the Architect of the Capitol’s painters and artisans were laboring to complete the massive task of readying the campus to host a presidential inauguration. “Over the course of a couple of hours, the hard work of our team was destroyed,” Blanton said.

“The [inauguration] platform was wrecked. There was broken glass and other debris. Sound systems and photography equipment was damaged beyond repair or stolen. Two historic Olmsted lanterns were ripped from the ground, and the wet blue paint was tracked all over the historic stone balustrades and Capitol building hallways.”

In the Capitol building complex, historical statues, murals and furniture were damaged, mainly from pepper spray accretions and residue from chemical irritants and fire extinguishers, requiring expert cleaning and conservation. Work crews covered gaping holes with plywood and cleared “a small mountain of debris left behind on the west and east fronts,” Blanton said.

Blanton also said many lawmakers have asked his office about preserving mementos from the unprecedented violence wrought by U.S. citizens on their own Capitol. While most damaged items had to be removed because of safety concerns, he said his staff preserved the panels of the historical Columbus Doors on the east front “for a potential presentation or display.”

According to NPR, Blanton also addressed the security failures that contributed to the U.S. Capitol being occupied by an angry mob that sought to block the certification of then-President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump.

“The events of January 6 were stark reminders that institutional biases, priorities and actions taken out of sync with actionable data resulted in poor decisions,” he said. “If we do not learn from these mistakes, the campus will continue to remain vulnerable to unknown and unexpected threats.”

Blanton also asked the committee for help in securing additional funds for a campuswide security assessment to prevent similar events in the future and to protect the Capitol and the people who work there.

Research contact: @NPR

‘Wheels come off’ for bus companies, closing down travel options for lower-income Americans

December 30, 2020

The wheels on the nation’s buses aren’t going round and round very much these days. Indeed, demand for bus travel has fallen by more than 80% during the pandemic, NPR reports.

That is raising concerns about the potential long-term damage to an essential transport sector for millions of lower-income Americans—even as air travel has shown signs of picking up since the Thanksgiving holiday period.

Even now, getting a bus ticket is becoming more expensive—and routes are being cut nationwide.

Feeling the pinch most are people such as Andrew Sarkis, said NPR, which interviewed him as he tried to make his way home for the holidays. Sarkis said he paid $97 for a one-way bus ticket from Hampton, Virginia, to New York City—a 12-hour journey that required two transfers.

“It’s expensive, man,” said Sarkis, while stretching his legs after his bus took a brief stop at Union Station in Washington, D.C.

“I used to go on another bus, for $45 a trip, that goes straight to New York,” he added.

Sarkis was on his way to visit family for Christmas but ended up with a half-day travel option on a Greyhound bus after finding his usual options in competing services pared down. “The service is not bad,” he said. “It’s just long hours of traveling.”

For its part, Greyhound told NPR that it’s operating at less than half its normal bus routes during the pandemic, while revenues have fallen nearly 60%.

“Greyhound has been immensely impacted by the effects of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement. “From temporary and permanent closures of routes to sudden workforce reductions, our ability to provide critical service to communities—especially those that are underserved and/or rural—has been reduced.”

Industrywide, the service cuts are even deeper.

We see the industry operating at about 10% capacity,” said Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association.

And it’s hard to estimate how soon demand will pick up. Not many people are interested in riding the bus these days, which means spending hours with strangers in an enclosed space.

Unlike airlines, which saw an uptick in travel over Thanksgiving, demand for bus tickets remains severely depressed, according to Wanderu, a travel website.

That raises concerns about the long-term health of a sector that generally operates on thinner margins and has less financial cushion.

Pantuso estimates that 85% of the 100,000 people who work in the bus industry have been laid off or furloughed—in most cases since March.

It’s not just long-haul services like Greyhound that are limping. Traffic on commuter lines that ordinarily ferry workers to and from the suburbs has also dried up, since many people are working from home.

Charter buses and specialty services are struggling as well.

The Nitetrain Coach Co. in Nashville offers tricked-out buses with bars and bunk beds for touring musicians. Since March, the company’s 120-bus fleet has gone silent.

“It’s been a hard time with concerts not happening,” said Nitetrain’s Angela Eicher. “No job. No income.” The company has idled more than 200 drivers as well as mechanics and office staff.

“We’re at the mercy of the venues,” Eicher said. “When the venues allow the concerts to start happening, that’s when our buses will start rolling again.”

But while Congress has offered billions of dollars in financial aid to airlines and Amtrak, bus companies have been overlooked.

Pantuso, the bus trade group president, told NPR that the lack of attention from Congress was a concern, calling his sector a critical piece of the nation’s transportation network. “If more members of Congress took the bus on a more regular basis,” he said, “we’d probably be at the top of the list for funding.”

Research contact: @NPR

In lieu of the interior ‘loo’: Transparent public toilets open in Tokyo parks—but they also offer privacy

August 21, 2020

Public toilets always have been a necessary evil: Anyone in need of such a communal, open-door convenience always harbors two fears:  Who is already in there? And just how filthy are the facilities?

Now, a famous Japanese architect has solved those problems with transparent walls that become opaque when the door locks on a single-service unit , and with vibrant colors and illumination that light up even the darkest area, to make the restrooms safe and attractive, NPR reports.

The glass walls of Ban’s new public bathrooms turn opaque when people enter and lock the door. (Photo source: Satoshi Naare/The Nippon Foundation)

Indeed, according to architect Shigeru Ban;—and the Nippon Foundation, which funded the The Tokyo Toilet project— the transparent walls reveal to potential users what awaits them inside. After users enter the restroom and lock the door, the powder room’s walls turn a powdery pastel shade—and are no longer see-through.

“Using a new technology, we made the outer walls with glass that becomes opaque when the lock is closed, so that a person can check inside before entering,” the Nippon Foundation says of the new bathrooms in the parks throughout Tokyo’s Shibuya ward district. .

In order to come up with the prototype, the foundation enlisted world-famous architects to create toilets “like you’ve never seen.”

Indeed, the 16 architects who have been asked to reimagine public toilets are some of the brightest names in Japanese architecture. The list includes four Pritzker  Architecture Prize winners—Ban, Toyo Ito, Tadao Ando and Fumihiko Maki – along with international stars such as Kengo Kuma and Sou Fujimoto. The fashion designer Nigo is also contributing.

As for cleanliness, the organizers say, “We at The Tokyo Toilet believe that providing a comfortable user experience through cleaning and maintenance is … important. The Nippon Foundation, the Shibuya city Government and the Shibuya Tourism Association will work together to maintain these facilities. We will also work with professional toilet inspectors to periodically survey the toilets to ensure we are providing the best user experience.”

The maintenance satus will be posted on the Toyko Toilet website to encourage users to help maintain cleanliness for the next person.

In all, NPR says, the Nippon Foundation is redesigning 17 public toilets in Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s busiest shopping and entertainment districts. The foundation is working with the local government to deploy two of Japan’s national strengths —devotion to cleanliness and design —to address a public necessity.

Well-known toilet company TOTO, famous for its toilets that coddle users with features such as heated seats, bidets and deodorizers, “will advise on toilet equipment and layout,” the foundation says.

Ban’s colorful public bathrooms opened to the public this month in two parks: Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park. Other bespoke commodes will be opening in coming months.

Research contact: @NPR

Look it up: Regardless of what you think, ‘irregardless’ is a word

July 9, 2020

Merriam-Webster —which has been tracking and defining the American-English lexicon since 1828raised the hackles of stodgy grammarians last week when it affirmed the veracity of “irregardless,” NPR reports.

The word’s definition, when reading it, would seem to be: without without regard.

 “Irregardless is included in our dictionary because it has been in widespread and near-constant use since 1795,” the dictionary’s staff wrote in a “Words of the Week” roundup on Friday, July 3. “We do not make the English language; we merely record it.”

Merriam-Webster defines irregardless as “nonstandard” but meaning the same as “regardless.” “Many people find irregardless to be a nonsensical word, as the ir– prefix usually functions to indicates negation; however, in this case it appears to function as an intensifier,” the dictionary writes.

It’s not a real word. I don’t care what the dictionary says,” author Michelle Ray, who teaches English in Silver Spring, Maryland, told NPR.

“You say ‘regardless.’ Regardless of the fact,” she exclaimed on the radio network’s Morning Edition. “Irregardless means not regardless. And that’s not what you’re trying to say at all. So why, in what context, would irregardless make sense? I can’t understand it.”

The brouhaha regarding the word seems to have started last week when a popular Twitter user took umbrage at Merriam-Webster’s listing, decrying the death of the English language.

But irregardless was first included in Merriam-Webster‘s Unabridged edition in 1934, a spokesperson tells NPR. What’s more, other dictionaries—among them,  Webster’s New World College DictionaryThe American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, and the Cambridge Dictionary—all recognize irregardless as a word.

And they have done so for a long time: In 1859, The Baltimore Sun wrote that a man “had endeavored to discharge his duty fearlessly in this case, irregardless of those who may consider this discourse discourteous to the ‘Plugs.’ ”

 That same newspaper once again published the word in editor John McIntyre’s commentary on Saturday, July 4: ” ‘Irregardless’ is too a word; you just don’t understand dictionaries.

“People get upset about the dictionary because they think it is some sort of official document,” he tells NPR. “And it’s not. It’s just lexicographers identifying words that people use and trying to find out, well, how are they spelled? How are they pronounced? What meanings do they have? Where did they come from?”

The dictionary’s recognition “doesn’t enroll a word as correct in the English language,” McIntyre says. “It just says this is a word that a lot of people use in English. And here’s what we know about it.”

So it’s a word, but its use is still discouraged in formal writing. In 2016, NPR’s standards and practices editor at the time told staff to “just say ‘regardless.’ ” The AP Stylebook calls it a double negative.

And Ray says she’s still planning to mark “irregardless” as incorrect on her students’ work.

Still, there’s no need to send angry letters and tweets to the folks at Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries.

McIntyre’s solution: “You don’t like it? Don’t use it.”

Research contact: @NPR

Facebook expunges Trump ads featuring red triangular symbol used by Nazis

June 22, 2020

Even Mark Zuckerberg won’t tolerate Nazi symbols: Facebook on Thursday, June 18, announced that it had removed campaign posts and advertisements from the Trump campaign featuring an upside down red triangle symbol used by the Third Reich to identify political opponents, according to a report by NPR.

The red triangles are anathema to Jewish communities worldwide. Some prisoners in Nazi concentration camps were identified with colored inverted triangles sewn onto their uniforms , others triangles were affixed to the uniforms of sympathizers who had tried to save them, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The posts, according to a Facebook spokesperson, violated the social network’s policy against hate. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” the spokesperson told NPR.

One of the ads from the Donald J. Trump for President team that prominently displayed the red triangle claimed that “dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem.” The ad went on to say protesters are destroying America’s cities by rioting. “It’s absolute madness,” the ad said.

Bend the Arc, a Jewish action committee, immediately posted a tweet disparaging Trump and his followers: “The President of the United States is campaigning for reelection using a Nazi concentration camp symbol,” the tweet said, adding, “Nazis used the red triangle to mark political prisoners and people who rescued Jews.
Trump & the RNC are using it to smear millions of protestors. Their masks are off.”

The Trump campaign responded by drawing a lighthearted comparison to the red triangle symbol: “This is an emoji.”

Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said that some products are sold online that use the inverted red triangle in Antifa imagery, although experts told NPR that the red triangle is not a commonly adopted symbol among anti-fascist activists.

We would note that Facebook still has an inverted red triangle emoji in use, which looks exactly the same, so it’s curious that they would target only this ad,” Murtaugh said.

The campaign also said that the symbol is not in the Anti-Defamation League Hate Symbols Database.

In an interview with NPR, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, pointed out that the database is not a collection of historical Nazi imagery.

“It’s a database of symbols commonly used by modern extremist groups and white supremacists in the United States,” he said.

Greenblatt said removing the posts should not have been a hard call. He said the Trump campaign should apologize.

“Intentionally or otherwise, using symbols that were once used by the Nazis is not a good look for someone running for the White House,” he said. “It isn’t difficult for one to criticize a political opponent without using Nazi-era imagery.”

Earlier Greenblatt had tweeted that “ignorance is no excuse for using Nazi-related symbols.”

However, it is unlikely that President Trump, who is an admirer of Adolf Hitler’s treatise, Mein Kampf, would not have known about the red triangle.

Research contact: @NPR

NPR poll: Conservative New Yorkers trust Cuomo more than Trump on state reopening

April 29, 2020

When President Donald Trump designated the state governors as the decision-makers on COVID-19 testing, treatment, PPEs, and lockdowns, he hoped to avoid blame—not invite comparisons.

But for the American public, it has been hard to avoid seeing the disparities between the president’s approach to the pandemic—one largely of self-interest—and that of the state leaders; many of whom are resolved to save as many of their constituents as possible.

And that divergence is evident from the result of a recent poll by Sienna College Research Institute, according to an April 27 NPR report.

In fact, New York State voters overwhelmingly trust Governor Andrew Cuomo more than they do President Donald Trump to decide when to reopen their state, according to the new findings. Specifically, respondents said they trust Cuomo over Trump by a 78%-16% margin.

In the poll, Republican and conservative voters also said they prefer the Democratic governor’s judgment on the issue to Trump’s, with 56% and 57%, respectively, favoring the governor.

“When it comes to whom New Yorkers trust more to make decisions about reopening the state and its economy—the President or the Governor—it’s not even close,” said Sienna College pollster Steven Greenberg in a press release.

The poll finds broad support for two of Cuomo’s executive orders. The governor’s extension of non-essential business closures until at least mid-May gets an 87% overall approval rating among New Yorkers. Even higher, the order that residents must wear protective masks in public has an approval rating of 92%.

“While you cannot find a single issue that would generate unanimous support from all 12 million New York voters, Cuomo’s order that face masks or coverings must be worn in public…comes as close as any issue Sienna College has ever plled, Greenberg said.

What’s more, NPR notes, Cuomo’s favorability rating is currently up to an all-time high of 77%, according to the poll.

The governor’s daily press briefings have attracted national attention, especially in contrast to those of the president. Cuomo’s briefings garner a mixed bag of reactions on social media, but one common praise point is the New York governor’s frankness in presenting harrowing facts.

“Cuomo’s daily briefings are a case study in transparency and truth to build trust,” wrote Linda Peek Schatch, a former Carter administration official, in a piece for the Brookings Institution. “Unlike Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men,” Cuomo believes the American people can handle the truth.”

In contrast, Trump has been criticized for his performance at daily White House briefings—and on Monday, there was confusion over whether the president would continue to hold future briefings.

As NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe reports:”Trump has faced criticism from opponents about the way he’s handled these briefings—spending much of his time sparring with reporters and often contradicting his own medical experts. Even some of the president’s supporters have complained that the briefings detract from the administration’s message.”

Research contact: @NPR

Elliott Management buys stake in Twitter; looks to replace CEO @jack Dorsey

March 3, 2020

Hedge fund Elliott Management has taken a sizable stake—although it won’t say just how much- in the San Francisco-based social network Twitter  and plans to push for changes at the company, including replacing Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey, according to people familiar with the matter.

According to a report by Reuters, Twitter is one of the few U.S. technology companies headed, but not controlled, by one of its founders. It has given shareholders equal voting rights, making Dorsey, who owns only about 2% of the company, vulnerable to a challenge from an activist investor such as Elliott.

And word is out that Elliot would like to see Dorsey go. NPR reported on March 1 that Elliott is concerned that Dorsey hasn’t focused enough on Twitter, because he is also chief executive of payments company Square. The hedge fund is pushing for a CEO whose sole job is running Twitter.

Adding pressure, Elliott has nominated four directors to the company’s board, according to two people familiar with the matter, NPR said. The two sides have had constructive talks, according to the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Twitter and Elliott declined to comment.

The worry is that under Dorsey’s leadership, Twitter is not poised to capitalize on a flood of news this year—including the U.S. presidential election, the summer Olympic Games in Tokyo—and the coronavirus outbreak, that could attract people and advertisers to the platform.

Elliott approached San Francisco-based Twitter about its concerns privately and has had constructive discussions with it since then, the people said.

Twitter has been a potential target for activist investors for years, according to Bloomberg News. The company only has one class of stock, the news outlet notes, which means co-founder Dorsey doesn’t have voting control of the company like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Snapchat co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy.

Research contact: @NPR

ADL lists the ‘OK’ hand gesture as a symbol of hate

September 30, 2019

It used to be an innocent gesture meaning “fine and dandy.” Now it refers to something much more sinister. In fact, the “OK” hand signal is among 36 new entries in the Anti-Defamation League’s “Hate on Display” database.

On September 26, NPR reports, the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that fights anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, added the index finger-to-thumb sign to its hate list because, the organization says, in some corners of the Internet has become associated with white supremacy and the far right.

Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, told NPR in an interview that, for years—on fringe online message boards such as 4chan and 8chanthe “OK” sign has been deployed in memes and other images promoting hate. Given the number of white supremacists who have adopted it, he said it can now carry a nefarious message.

“Context is always key,” Segal said. “More people than not will use the OK symbol as just ‘OK.’ But in those cases where there’s more underlining meaning, I think it’s important for people to understand that it could be

According to the website Know Your Meme, as a prank, 4chan users in 2017 launched a campaign to flood social media with posts linking the “OK” hand gesture to the white power movement. Commenters on the message board appropriated images of people posing in the White House and other locations making the hand symbol as proof that it was catching on.

Segal told NPR that, today, while many of those images were misconstrued by users on the online message boards, the number of people espousing hate while using the gesture has grown so widespread that it can no longer be considered a prank.

The ADL established its “Hate on Display” database in 2000 as a way to help track hate groups and their symbols for law enforcement, educator,s and other members of the public. Since then, the database has grown to include 214 entries.

One of the more prominent additions to the database, back in September 2016, was Pepe the Frog, the big-eyed green cartoon that became a kind of mascot of the alt-right.

Other symbols among the 36 added on Thursday include “Dylann Roof’s Bowlcut,” a reference to the haircut worn by the white supremacist gunman who killed nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

Followers of Roof have incorporated the distinctive haircut into screen names such as “Bowltrash” or “The Final Bowlution” or collectively have referred to themselves as the “Bowl Gang,” according to the ADL.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO, said in a statement that old symbols, gestures and other images are rapidly acquiring new, hateful associations that may be too obscure for the general public to understand.

“We believe law enforcement and the public needs to be fully informed about the meaning of these images, which can serve as a first warning sign to the presence of haters in a community or school,” he said, according to NPR.

Research contact: @NPR

A small Texas town is home to one of the last baseball glove factories in America

March 22, 2019

At a factory located about 100 miles outside of Dallas, employees literally are working “hand in glove” to produce the high-quality leather accessories used on baseball and softball diamonds nationwide.

Since 1934, in the small town of Nocona, Texas (population: 3,000), premium ball gloves have been handcrafted by skilled American workers. Each of the gloves made at the Nokona American Ballgloves manufacturing site is individually cut, stamped, stitched, laced, and embroidered by the company’s 75 employees—giving the mitt its own unique identity and feel.

And the company, itself, is nearly one of a kind—representing one of the last baseball glove factories in the United States, according to a recent NPR report.

“We literally bring leather in through one door and magically, ball gloves come out the door at the very end,” Rob Storey, Nokona’s executive vice president, told the public radio station.

And Storey should know: He grew up in the business. To survive the Depression, his grandfather, Bob Storey, added baseball gloves to his line of leather goods in 1934. Since then, just about every U.S. competitor has moved production overseas.

[In] a lot of [the overseas] factories, people have never even seen a baseball game or know what it is. Sure, it would be easy to go over there and do something. But that’s not who we are.” he said in an interview.

Who they are is an all-American company dedicated to the nation’s favorite pastime—even if Nokona not a household name like Rawlings or Wilson.

And in the youth market, they are big. “I grew up using a Nokona glove,” recalls Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Robby Scott. “My first glove that I ever really remember was a first baseman’s mitt that was a Nokona.”

Indeed, he told NPR, “I will never wear a different glove.It’s a special bond I have with them. They could have 200 players wearing their gloves. But, to me, it seems special because they make it seem like I’m the only one.”

And, says Storey, Nokona is the only maker he knows of that will refurbish its old, tattered mitts. He says that doesn’t happen with gloves made overseas.

Research contact: @bzeeble

Minority patients are 40% less likely than whites to get pain meds from EMTs

January 22, 2019

There is nothing “borderline” about administering lower-quality medical care to black patients than to white patients: It is clear-cut discrimination.

Yet, a recent study out of Oregon suggests that emergency medical responders—EMTs and paramedics—are 40% less likely to administer pain medications to minority patients than to white patients, Men’s Health magazine reports.

Outright discrimination by paramedics is rare, the researchers say—and is out-and-out illegal. In many of these cases, they believe, unconscious bias may be at work.

Jamie Kennel, head of Emergency Medical Services programs at Oregon Health and Science University and the Oregon Institute of Technology, led the research, which was presented in December at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Scientific Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

The researchers received a grant to produce the internal report for the Oregon Emergency Medical Services department and the Oregon Office of Rural Health.

The study looked at 104,000 medical charts of ambulance patients from 2015 to 2017. It found that minority patients were less likely to receive morphine and other pain medication compared with white patients—regardless of socioeconomic factors, such as health insurance status.

To illustrate the problem, the report tells the story of Leslie Gregory—now the founder and director of right2health.org—who was, just a few years ago, one of a very few black female emergency medical technicians working in Lenawee County, Michigan. She said the study’s findings ring true based on her experience.

She remembers one particular call that illustrates the problem: The patient was down and in pain. As the EMTs arrived at the scene, Gregory could see the patient was black. And that’s when one of her colleagues groaned.

“I think it was something like: ‘Oh, my God. Here we go again,’” Gregory said. She worried —then, as now—that because the patient was black, her colleague assumed he was acting out to get pain medication.

“I am absolutely sure this was unconscious,” added Gregory, who now lives and works in Portland, Oregon, where she founded her nonprofit organization. “At the time, I remember, it increased my stress as we rode up on this person. Because I thought, ‘Now am I going to have to fight my colleague for more pain medication, should that arise?’”

Gregory says that she created Right to Health, “out of frustration that our nation had made so little progress in addressing the hate and ignorance related to ethnic disparities and America’s problems with its history and founding principles of inequity.”

Indeed, research has found African-Americans more likely to be deeply distrustful of the medical community, perhaps with good reason. Such distrust is understandable and goes back generations, said Gregory.

“How can a person of color not disrespect a system that is constantly studying and talking about these disparities, but does nothing to fix it?” she asked.

Gregory wrote an open letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015, asking the agency to declare racism a threat to public health.

Past declarations of crisis—such as those focusing attention on problems such as smoking or HIV—have had significant results, Gregory noted.

But the CDC told Gregory, in its emailed response, that while it supports government policies to combat racial discrimination and acknowledges the role of racism in health disparities, “racism and racial discrimination in health is a societal issue as well as a public health one, and one that requires a broad-based societal strategy to effectively dismantle racism and its negative impacts in the United States.”

And study author Kennel believes that, along with this non-answer, the issue may continue to build because ambulance companies are reluctant to release data on patient care.

“We were prepared to maybe not look that great,” said Robert McDonald, the operations manager at American Medical Response in Portland, Oregon. AMR is one of the nation’s largest ambulance organizations, and it shared its data from more than 100,000 charts with Kennel.

Some people chalk up the disparities that Kennel found to differences in demography and health insurance status, but he notes that the study controlled for those variables.

So now that AMR knows about disparities in its care, what can the company do?

“My feeling is we’re probably going to put some education and training out to our folks in the field,” McDonald said.

In addition, he said, AMR is going to hire more people of color.

This story was produced as part of a partnership that includes Oregon Public BroadcastingNPR and Kaiser Health News. 

Research contact: @OHSUNews