Opinion: Support and kindness can help prevent and prepare for the potential of COVID-19 entering our community

People Post is a space for opinion pieces, letters to the editor and guest submissions from members of the Long Beach community. The following is an op-ed submitted by Long Beach Health Director Kelly Colopy, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Long Beach Post.

As COVID-19 progresses here in the United States and we see more cases in surrounding communities, I feel it necessary to reach out to our community in this way.

I don’t want to bombard you with more numbers or information on travel restrictions, or even talk so much about what you should be doing from a hygiene perspective to stop the spread of virus (though please, please, please wash your hands – often – and in warm water for at least 20 seconds). You can find all that information on our website at www.longbeach.gov/COVID19. Bookmark this site and check it frequently. It’s the first place you’ll find local, up-to-date information, and it links you to other important sites like the Centers for Disease Control. Please check those sites out for real information as we’ve already heard a few rumors circulating. Also, if you use social media, you can follow #COVID19LongBeach. We will be transparently and openly sharing information on what we are doing here in Long Beach to aggressively monitor the situation and prepare for the possibility of local transmission.

What I want to talk about is something that we should all be talking about more as it relates to the health of our community: support and kindness.

Rest assured that our Health and Human Services Department and local healthcare professionals are working with community members every single day to help identify their ailments and ease fears. These health professionals have dedicated their lives to helping all of us. Trust and believe that they want to do right by you, and if they think you are at risk from COVID-19, they will do everything they can to confirm it, care for you and contain it. We don’t have any confirmed cases here in Long Beach, but should that change, we are prepared.

So while our healthcare network is hard at work, one of the most important things you can do for the health of our community is support each other. If you have family and friends that are elderly or may have underlying respiratory conditions, give them a call and check in. If they are sick and experiencing fever, cough and shortness of breath, help them reach out to their primary care physician.

And let’s not forget our neighbors. Many of us have neighbors that are elderly or have disabilities that affect mobility, and sometimes they live alone. Do the same for them. Supporting each other, even when it’s over the phone or on text or video chat, goes a long way to bolster mental health and put each other at ease.

Secondly, practice kindness. As your City Health and Human Services Director, you may think that I wouldn’t be offering kindness as part of the solution, however, it is one of the key factors in not spreading fear; Fear leads to misinformation and confusion, neither of which are helpful. Be kind to each other. There has been quite a bit of stigma put on community members, who are perfectly healthy, that may be from a certain country, or traveled from a certain country or even just look a certain way. This stigma is not helpful for the health of our community and only does damage.

Should you be taking COVID-19 seriously? Absolutely. It takes all of us to stop the spread of virus, whether it be the flu or COVID-19. It’s also going to take all of us to stop the spread of misinformation. This is critical. If you don’t know the answer to something, go to our website at www.longbeach.gov/COVID19. The answer will likely be there. If you can’t find the answer, ask your healthcare provider. Or even direct message us on social media at @LBHealthDept. We will respond. And when we give you the answer, help us spread the facts!

Thank you, Long Beach, for working together to be a part of the solution.

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