By Beverly Gadson-Birch
Good morning Charleston! Are y’all practicing safe health? When something terrible happened in black communities or the nation, older folk would say, “it’s praying time”. What time is it? Yep, “it’s praying time”. While I am very much concerned about the virus outbreak, I am not panicking. On a recent visit home, my daughter described my cleaning supplies and sanitizers as an “arsenal”. What she didn’t know was the “arsenal” included her and others who were ill. Young people think they are invincible and will live forever. Warnings are not taken seriously as are evident in social gatherings, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the likes. Unlike young people, old schoolers have been through a storm or two.
Coronavirus, Covid-19, is not only affecting communities and changing lives but it has become a national pandemic killing thousands of people. As serious as the virus is, and I take it very seriously being in the highly affected age group, don’t let fear paralyze you. Early awareness and preparation are keys to prevention. Advice and information, from many sources, are circulating on social media on how to prevent the spread of the virus. Be sure you do your own research and follow credible sources and advice. Churchgoers are familiar with the Bible verse God is “no respecter of persons”. Covid-19 is “no respecter of persons” and doesn’t discriminate between, black and white, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, rich and poor, athletes and actors. No one is exempt!
My people who are black like me, if you suspect that you have Covid-19 symptoms, get tested! Even in the absence of life-threatening viruses, black and brown folks are not treated equal. So, be vigilant! When it comes to seniors, the thinking is why waste valuable and limited resources, they are not going to live much longer. Let no man be judge, jury and executioner over your life. Take pro-active steps to limit exposure to the virus. Keep your distance! Stay close to home! Wash your hands with soap and/or sanitizer. These valuable precautionary measures are not new to my people. Old schoolers grew up with lye soap and bleach. And, washing your hands was never optional.
I am especially concerned about the elderly and homeless population. The poor and disenfranchised will always be among us. Since some homeless doesn’t look or even smell good, we tend to turn our noses up at them. They may look different but in so many ways we are alike. Each of us has the will to survive. Be careful how you exclude! I haven’t heard anything about what is being done to keep the homeless safe. How is information being disseminated to them? Since the homeless population is transient, are they even aware of the seriousness of this very complex, transmittable and fast-moving virus. Are there sanitizer pumps available at bus stops, under over paths, community centers and churches? We need to address people where they live or congregate. Mobile health RVs should be available in poor neighborhoods and/or community centers staffed with health information on the virus and available testing, where needed, in the absence of transportation. Costs and insurance should not be determining factors in symptomatic persons pursuing testing. Information should be accessible and available in all communities.
Governor McMaster took swift and unprecedented action, while some felt he acted prematurely, in appropriately closing state’s schools to minimize exposure and spread of the virus. School-age children will still be able to receive breakfast and lunch. Check with your school to see about pick-up or drop-off points in your community.
President Trump has finally gone from undermining the deadly impact of the virus on the American people to declaring the present state-of-affairs as pandemic. As I put the finishing touch on this article, the president is putting forth a plan to assist small businesses, investors and taxpayers. If you find yourself out of work and falling behind in your financial obligations, with mortgages being at the top of the list, contact your banker or lending institution. During the recession of 2008, folks lost their homes. Let’s not have a repeat of 2008! Be proactive!
It is time to put in place, “each one, reach one”. Reach out to family, elderly and sick neighbors. Some of y’all haven’t spoken to family members in years. It’s been so long you don’t remember why you stop speaking in the first place. Family is family! Perilous times dictate that we lay aside pettiness, respond to crisis and help each other. If you are among the fortunate ones with a roof over your head and a little money in the bank, you are not immune. Reach out to others during this difficult time. Covid-19 is really life changing and challenging but not insurmountable.