By Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – American life as usual has drastically come to a halt around the nation and world due to the Corona virus that has infected approximately 4,900 in 49 states and the District of Columbia at this writing. Churches, schools, sports events; even graduations and other large and even small gatherings are being postponed to abate the spread of the virus.
There have been 95 deaths reported (1.9 percent) with the hardest hit states being Washington State, New York and California. West Virginia is the only state that had not reported any infections as of March 17. Washington and New York are the hardest hit states, both with more than 900 cases each. California follows with 450 cases.
According to the World Health Organization, symptoms may include runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, pneumonia, and difficulty breathing in the most severe cases.
But none of these facts are any good unless the people hearing them trust the people stating them. That’s the reason the NAACP held a Sunday evening teleconference that engaged more than 21,000 people March 15. What the listeners may not have expected was the matter-of-fact, straight to the point introduction of himself by U. S. Attorney General Dr. Jerome Adams:
“Many of you don’t know me and frankly some of you don’t have a lot of trust in me or this administration. So, I’m going to take just a quick moment to give you some background,” he began.
“I personally grew up in a rural mostly White Southern community. I benefitted from WIC, reduced lunch and other government assistance. All four of my grandparents died prematurely from chronic disease, my brother’s incarcerated due to his problems with and struggles with substance misuse; my mother had a major stroke last year and I’m currently on eight different medications myself.”
Adams continued, “I know what it’s like growing up poor, Black and with minimal access to health care. And I’m personally experiencing the life-long impacts that stem from that. I want you all to know I don’t affiliate with a party and I didn’t take my current job, which pays a whole lot less than being an anesthesiologist does, for political reasons. I’m a Christian and I believe God doesn’t put you where you’ll be comfortable. He puts you where he needs you to be.”
He concluded, “Our issue as people of color are too important to go four years without representation in the highest levels of government. And I have personally had faith that I am put where I am most needed. That said, I spent my life fighting and will keep fighting for the poor, the disadvantaged, the people of color, and I – along with the other health officials on the coronavirus task force…but I want you to hear it from me. I hope I can earn your trust.”
Adams’ words were quite timely given that President Donald Trump who appointed him had, early in the coronavirus spread, publicly dismissed it as a “Democratic hoax.” The now pandemic, which Trump has described as “bad”, has resulted in Trump and top federal medical experts, including Adams, standing front and center on almost a daily basis giving updates on the spread, now declared a “National Emergency” by Trump.
The key now is mitigation, Adams said. “Mitigation means limiting the impact within our communities by social distancing and also protecting the most vulnerable,” Adams said.
According to Coronavirus.gov, the following are the strongest ways to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash; then immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Adams also suggested connecting with each other through Facetime and skype in order to continue social connections and “establish buddy systems” and check in on elderly and vulnerable people by phone to make sure they are alright.
“Connections can give people strength to keep up and fight a national threat. There are resources for managing stress and anxiety at CDC.gov or Coronavirus.gov and the Hotline number 1-800-985-5990.”
According to his official bio, Adams, the 20th surgeon general of the U. S. called, the “Nation’s Doctor”, has a bachelor’s degrees in both biochemistry and psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a master of public health degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine.