Coronavirus incidents are evolving rapidly, as you know. At Solid Ground, we are closely monitoring the situation, globally and locally. Our organization comprises 22 programs and services that help more than 75,000 households each year overcome poverty throughout Washington state.
Our people are at risk for being left behind by various stigmas.
With the safety of our program participants, staff, volunteers and community foremost in our minds, we are taking guidance from the Seattle & King County Public Health Department and other experts, and adding to it.
We have partnered with Public Health to promote destigmatizing virus transmission.
Racial stereotypes are leading to discrimination in reaction to this illness. It is important that we address the coronavirus as we would any other contagious illness, with guidance grounded in facts and precautions we can take every day.
Here are a few actions we are recommending to our employees, the people we serve and the broader community:
Follow the common-sense preparedness steps outlined in the Seattle & King County Public Health’s Novel Coronavirus flyer, which is also a great resource on symptoms. For people who cannot self-isolate when they are feeling ill, Public Health recommends that they stay 6 feet from other people and wear a mask to prevent droplet transmission to others.
Make sure your family is prepared for all situations by assuring that you have adequate food, water and medicines located at your home. The American Red Cross provides a helpful Survival Kit Supplies checklist.
If you have symptoms like a cough or fever, or other respiratory problems, isolate yourself and wear a mask before leaving the house.
If you have symptoms and the benefit of health insurance, call your insurance-provided nurse line. If you have symptoms but not health insurance, there are public health numbers to call. King County has set up a Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 206-477-3977. We also have a statewide coronavirus line at 800-525-0127, but this number is receiving a high volume of calls and known to be busy.
Or, go to a community clinic and ask for guidance. Public Health is asking people not to go to the emergency room without getting a consultation first or that people call the ER for a consultation.
The general advice is to seek help remotely via digital means and secure resources for yourself. These options, though, are a privilege that some among us cannot afford. So, let’s be mindful of our classism; some people may not have access to the advice or its courses of action.
As for organizations, we hope to lead in implementing a comprehensive response plan grounded in guidance from Seattle & King County Public Health and their Healthcare for the Homeless Network.
Our goals at Solid Ground are to:
• Reduce the spread of disease among staff
• Protect people at higher risk for complications
• Maintain business operations
• Minimize impact on people we serve and business partners.
Our steps to achieve these goals include:
• More rigorous and periodic cleaning of spaces that have high public traffic
• Encouraging employees and volunteers to stay home when sick
• Communicating with the people we serve that are at the most risk
• Providing supplies when necessary to those who need them.
We recommend that individuals check the King County website frequently: kingcounty.gov/ncov.
And, please visit the King County webpage via tinyurl.com/qpc35pu with more information about preventing, interrupting and responding to virus stigma.
Mike Buchman is Solid Ground’s communications director.
Read more in the Mar. 11-17, 2020 issue.