Greetings Thornton Township Family:
First and foremost, we hope you and your family are safe and in good health.
Please Continue the Good Fight
The message we send is straightforward but carries enormous life and death consequences. The news is this: As we continue to fight the good fight against the deadly COVID-19 virus to keep ourselves, our family, and our neighbors safe, we will not succeed unless we arm ourselves with as much trustworthy and reliable scientific information as possible. Having trustworthy and reliable COVID-19 information is especially important for Township residents currently participating in protest marches related to the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. To avoid increasing the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the Township, these residents must be very mindful of practicing good COVID-19 safety hygiene upon returning from these and other large gatherings where people were not practicing social distancing. We are asking that all residents, seniors and youth, to always keep COVID-19 top of mind in all that you do.
For this crucial reason, our Institute has joined hands with the Youth and Family Services Center and the Parent STEM/STEAM Advisory Team (PSSAT) to create this Township COVID-19 Safety and Wellness support resources webpage. Two COVID-19 realities have also inspired this initiative. The first is the many acts of human dignity, decency, generosity, compassion, kindness, and courage shown by essential workers, neighbors, and even strangers during this crisis have been simply amazing. We witnessed brave and caring people from the many colors and cultures that make our resilient human family around the world, the nation, and throughout the Township, joining hands to contain and defeat this unseen and powerful enemy. Their selfless act is undeniable proof that we are indeed Stronger Together!
COVID-19 Public Health Crisis: Local Communities
This COVID-19 safety/wellness support resource webpage is also motivated by alarming reports from scientists, governors, and mayors that COVID-19 is hitting low-resource Black and Brown communities of color especially hard. Some states and big cities like Chicago report that 60-70 percent of the people who have died from the virus are African American (African Americans are only 29% of Chicago’s population). In our state of Illinois, African Americans are 14.6% of the state population, but about 30% of the COVID-19 deaths. There are other reports that the Latinx community in Illinois is testing positive for COVID-19 at higher rates than other groups in Illinois (nearly 60%). Public health researchers tell us that among other social and psychological issues, systemic racism, and entrenched inequalities in health care resources are mostly responsible for these sorrowful conditions. We see this also as a moment of truth. A test is given to all of us to see if we understand that we are truly our brothers and sisters keeper. Now is the time for all members of the Township human family to join hands. Blacks, Whites, Latinx, Asians, and other members of the Township must now come together in true brotherhood to solve these problems and work together to build stronger and more economically prosperous communities for all children and families.
The American political system is created to ensure federal, state, and local governments all play specific roles in creating and implementing solutions to these and other COVID-19 challenges. However, most experts agree that until a vaccine is discovered (perhaps 12-18 months away), engaged and empowered local communities and their local government units are most important to containing and eventually defeating the coronavirus. Although late in arriving, we agree with and applaud this revelation. Some of you probably know that community engagement and empowerment is the mission of our educational organization. As such, there is absolutely no doubt in our minds that when future stories of how the war against COVID-19 was won, they will tell of how resilient and empowered local communities came together to create a new future, realizing that they were indeed, Stronger Together. However, as the matter stands right now, too many vulnerable local communities of color do not receive reliable and trustworthy scientific information they need to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe. At the Institute, we call this problem the COVID-19 knowledge gap.
COVID-19 Knowledge Gap: Misinformation, Myths, and Conspiracy Theories
Researchers at our Institute are examining what we are calling the COVID-19 knowledge gap, occurring in Illinois and other parts of the nation between more affluent White communities and low-income communities of color. We are concerned that trustworthy and reliable COVID-19 information does not reach communities of color at the same speed and quality as middle and upper-class White communities in the state and nation. While the latter communities are actively and intellectually engaged in high-level conversation on such life and death issues as reopening the economy, and what levels of COVID-19 testing, isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine is required, vulnerable local communities of color are still working frantically to put out COVID-19 wildfires started by inequalities in public health services, and inflamed by COVID-19 misinformation, myths, and conspiracy theories. Perhaps the most devastating myth is that because Blacks have melanin in their skin, they cannot become infected with COVID-19.
Stronger Together – COVID-19 Safety and Wellness Support Resources Webpage
These facts and many others clearly show the dire need to begin laying foundational COVID-19 public health bricks to support the delivery of trustworthy, reliable, and culturally sensitive COVID-19 information and knowledge to communities of color. To this end, our Stronger Together COVID-19 safety and wellness resources webpage offer Township residents the following:
- Thornton Township COVID-19 Safety and Wellness Resources
- Center for Disease Control information (CDC) (www.cdc.gov)
- World Health Organization information (WHO) (https://www.who.int/)
- Illinois Public Health COVID-19 (https://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19)
- COVID-19 Cook County Public Health (https://www.cookcountypublichealth.org/ )
- Government, academic, business and community conversations on reopening the economy:
- Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) – Illinois Reopening Plan (https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/Pages/RestoreILP3.aspx)
- Resolve to Save Lives – LIVE UPDATES
- Harvard University’s Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience (https://ethics.harvard.edu/files/center-for-ethics/files/roadmaptopandemicresilience_updated_4.20.20_0.pdf )
“Urgency of Now” Safety and Wellness Survey
In his epic battles for freedom, justice, and equality, one of Dr. King’s most powerful phrases was the “Urgency of Now.” The simple message behind this phrase was, “we cannot afford to waste any time.” The life and death decisions COVID-19 are bringing to us each day also mean we cannot afford to waste any time. Please be clear on this vital point: your immediate and consistent COVID-19 safety and wellness feedback (mainly by surveys) is key to our success. The goal is to customize this safety and wellness webpage to your actual COVID-19 safety and wellness needs in real-time (e.g., masks, gloves, food, mental health assistance, testing, quarantine, employment opportunities, prek-12 remote learning technologies, etc.). The COVID-19 urgency of now safety and wellness survey will also solicit your ideas and opinions on reopening and reimagining the new economy.
Please click here (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5SMJMWC) to take the quick “urgency of now” safety and wellness survey. Also, please invite your friends and neighbors to participate in this COVID-19 safety and wellness survey.
Finally, many thanks for taking the time from your busy day to engage this message. In times like this that we need to have each other’s back. As your good neighbor, please do not hesitate to make full use of any and all the provisions we have to keep you and your family safe.
Until next time
- Stay safe
- Be your brothers and sisters keeper.
Dr. and Mrs. Howard
We welcome your thoughts and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org