So, while the first order of business as a community is undoubtedly to stop the pandemic itself and keep people healthy, we also know that doing so requires making thoughtful decisions as leaders, entrepreneurs, even as individual residents. Here are a few things every one of us can consider doing whether we’re an employee, a CEO, an elected official or just a person who calls South Carolina home.
SHARE FACTS NOT FEAR There’s a considerable amount of rumors spreading about COVID-19. And we’ve seen a fair share of hysteria too. Now more than ever, it’s critical to understand what is accurate and what is not so we can all make better choices. Please visit our website for credible information and links to the experts on COVID-19 at https://unitedwaygac.org/covid19/
MEET A VIRTUAL DOCTOR Across the country, the use of virtual doctor visits has emerged as a way to safely treat patients and to help contain the virus’s spread at hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people see an online doctor as a first line of defense if they’re feeling symptoms. Take this recommendation seriously. Doing so can help mitigate the virus’ spread, minimize exposure and keep healthcare workers, who will surely be strained and overextended, safer. Prisma Health and MUSC provides a free virtual visit for coronavirus symptoms.
SUPPORT THE LOCAL ECONOMY BY SUPPORTING THE LOCALS If you’re an employer, big or small, do your best to continue paying employees even if they’re unable to work. Make sure you’re not creating an environment in which workers feel they must show up even if they’re sick for fear of losing a paycheck. Doing so puts the rest of your staff, customers and even you at risk. If you’re an individual who usually pays for baby-sitting, housekeeping or other domestic support, consider paying your provider even if you cancel appointments or services. Many people in the service sector are just two pay checks away from financial ruin, and from losing their home. By not disrupting their income, you can help them weather the storm and protect our region from exacerbating the housing and food security challenges that already exist, and that directly impact our overall health and well-bring.
KEEP A HEALTHY DISTANCE By now you may have heard the term “flatten the curve.” It essentially means slowing down the rate at which people get infected. A rapid spike in coronavirus cases (visualized by a spiking curve) threatens to overwhelm hospitals, which have a finite number of beds, equipment and staff. By spreading out the number of cases over a longer period—even if the actual amount isn’t reduced— it “flattens” the spike and can ensure our health system has the bandwidth to care properly for patients. The key? The social distancing measures we’ve all heard about: avoid large groups, stay home if you’re sick, forgo travel, keep your distance from others, and go in for an elbow bump instead of a handshake or that most Miami of greetings: the air kiss. Many companies and organizations have already encouraged employees to work remotely and are holding digital phone conferences instead of meetings. If you’re an employer who hasn’t done so, consider it. If remote work is not possible, follow the CDC’s recommendations for increased cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and remind employees to wash hands and cover coughs and sneezes.
COME TOGETHER IN SPIRIT AND IN ACTION United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties is working closely with our grantees and partners, many of them community-based health organizations at the frontline of this pandemic. We’re ready for them to tell us exactly what they need and prepared to respond. But the side effects and symptoms of this crisis stretch far beyond what we in the health sector can treat. And the last few weeks have been nothing if not a reminder of how deeply interconnected we are to one another—geographically, economically, socially. If you’re an individual, consider donating to a local food bank or charitable groups working in vulnerable communities. In the private, public and philanthropic sectors we must to come together now, as we bear the brunt of the pandemic, and later, when we’re left with its longer-term damage. Everyone’s going to need a seat at the table and a voice. Because that’s the only way we can truly build the path to recovery.