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COVID-19 Response

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 how connected we are 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 firmly believe that it is through community that wellness is achieved and that during challenging times,  community and relationships are needed more than ever.  

The current public health emergency will force us to make changes to our daily lives while still being in community and in relationship with one another. While “social distancing” has been universally recommended, it is possible to both commit to safety and commit to community when one is centered in principles that symbolize that community is needed for 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… 20 seconds with soap and warm water. If you cannot wash your hands, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol listed in the ingredients.
  • Practice Social Distancing- maintain a distance of 3-6 feet from people. 
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practice good respiratory hygiene.  (For example, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or, a tissue, and do it away from people. )
  • If you have fever, cough and have a hard time 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. 

We as a community must take the threat of COVID-19 seriously and increase our efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, promote wellness and enhance our commitment to building community during these challenging times. By taking this seriously, we will be leaders in keeping ourselves, our families, friends, loved ones and neighbors healthy.

I believe in this moment we are going to have to look to technology as we temporarily redefine how we come together in community and value the groups in which we belong.  We must practice social distancing and limit unnecessary travel, while at the same time remaining committed to increased communication with our neighbors and a commitment to our community’s wellness by:  

  • Engaging with friends and family via telephone, text messaging, video calls, letter writing and social media.
  • Committing to mental and physical wellness by spending time daily enjoying fresh air and outdoor activities when possible such as walking, hiking, biking, gardening and visiting parks and greenspaces. 
  • Maximizing time-off with children and family members by playing games, watching movies, telling stories, cooking together, sharing meals and reading, and looking at photo albums if you have them.
  • Staying informed through reputable news sources, such as 69 News.
  • Limiting exposure to stressful media or social media coverage if it makes you too upset or worried.
  • Spending time journaling, reading, meditating, practicing new hobbies or rediscovering old hobbies.

I also want to 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 cruel 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. Our organization will be providing critical updates and information on resources via our social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook. Be wise, be safe and be kind.  

Respect,

Hasshan Batts, MSW, DHS.c 


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