To my Friends, Family, and Neighbors:
The COVID-19 has significantly impacted our world, our country, our community and our lives and has been declared a “public health emergency of international concern”. This pandemic confirms and that health, economics, and justice everywhere directly impacts life in the Lehigh Valley and has the potential to disrupt our lives.
I have been inundated with calls, emails and social media requests from our neighbors and leaders across our community for a public response to the virus, pandemic status, and prevention strategies. One of our guiding principles is that “healing occurs in authentic relationships and within community”, I believe that it is through community that wellness is achieved and that during times are needed more than ever.
“social distancing” has been universally recommended, is possible to both commit to safety and commit to community when one is centered in principles that that community safety and wellness.
From a public health and disease control perspective we encourage our neighbors to follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO):
- Wash Hands Frequently
- Social Distancing- maintain a distance of 3-6 feet from people
- Avoid touching your face
- Practice good respiratory hygiene
(example cough into your sleeve ,a tissue )
- If you have fever, cough and hard breathing seek medical attention. Do not go to the emergency room. Call your family doctor or call 1-888-402-LVHN and they will help you find the best treatment option
- Avoid travel, crowds and public places.
I acknowledge the strong distrust within communities of color towards the medical and public health community due to a lengthy history of medical apartheid, racism, neglect, abuse, deception and bias. This painful history has a legitimate impact on how our community will respond to this pandemic and the critical need for effective messaging, credible messengers and culturally relevant health prevention strategies when working within historically vulnerable and oppressed communities.
COVID-19 has disrupted our wellbeing and functioning as a society and as with most public health pandemics has the potential to disproportionately impact communities of color, elders, our neighbors living with pre-existing chronic medical conditions; those suffering from housing, food and income insecurity and our incarcerated family members or neighbors housed in institutions due to immigration practices.
It is critical that our leaders of disparately impacted communities not allow indifference, distrust and hopelessness to impact our decision making in response to the COVID-19 the subsequent state of emergencies or the inevitable suffering caused by lost wages, lack of health access and the predictable mental health responses to isolation.
Please take care of yourself, your family and your community and stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable amongst us. Be wise, be safe and be kind.
Hasshan Batts, MSW, DHS.c