By: Revive Omaha Staff
May 13, 2020
Over 75% of Coronavirus cases in Douglas County are people of color.
Urgent Warning. The Pandemic is not over. The numbers are on a stunning rise especially among African-Americans, Hispanic/Latinos and Asians. In the past 11 days (May 2 – May 13), cases among African Americans have increased from 108 to 228, Asians from 79 to 281 and Hispanic/Latinos a staggering 142 to 837.
Kenny McMorris, CEO of Charles Drew Health Center had this to say: “We have long known that when it comes to health outcomes in America, inequalities have persisted along racial lines. The recent coronavirus pandemic has shined an ugly light on these disparities as severe cases of COVID 19, the illness caused by the virus, are disproportionately affecting African American communities at a higher rate.”
According to Douglas County, some of the spike is related to increased testing and a higher percentage of positive tests. Officials also say the meatpacking plants are also contributing significantly to this increase.
The increases indicate that a large number of residents in Douglas County and the City of Omaha are walking around in their communities with the Coronavirus and they are not aware that they have the disease. They are not showing any symptoms but can pass the virus on to others. This is urgent and important. This is still an emergency.
We must follow the advice and guidance of local and national health professionals and community leaders including Douglas County Health Director – Dr. Adi Pour, Charles Drew Health Center CEO – Kenny McMorris, County Commissioner and Chair of the Douglas County Board of Health – Chris Rodgers, experienced local physicians and NIAID director, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
They are giving loud warnings to our communities that THIS IS NOT OVER. They are telling us there’s danger in moving too soon. Dr. Fauci in his testimony before Congress this week, said governmental agencies should be very careful in reopening and if done too soon risk accelerating the spread of the virus.
They are basically saying, “Do not reopen stores, restaurants and churches too quickly and stay home unless you absolutely need to go out.” When you go out, you must wear a mask or at the minimum a cloth face covering. There are far too many individuals still going to stores and other locations without masks.
We understand the importance of reopening the economy. People are suffering without jobs and wages to support their homes. And, we realize most are ready to resume their normal lifestyles. We support reopening after we’ve seen two weeks of declining cases as recommended by local and national health professionals. We have not seen two weeks of decreases, but rather a dramatic increase in the number of cases. Let’s work together the next few weeks to get things under control before we reopen.
Dr. Adi Pour reminds us that “underlying illnesses, i.e. diabetes, asthma, hypertension, obesity, makes someone vulnerable to the virus and can result in more severe outcomes.”
Douglas County has seen a major spike in Coronavirus cases in the past few weeks. It appears that many in the community are beginning to relax and put down their guards because of the roll back of some health directives and measures. We must stay vigilant.
For North Omaha as of May 13th, zip code 68014 has had 1,001 tested with 172 positive. Of those testing positive, 43.6% are Asian, 15.7% are African-American and 14.3% are Hispanic.
In zip code 68111, there have been 747 tested with 120 positive. Of those testing positive, 36.7% are Asian, 24.2% are African-American and 27.5% are Hispanic.
In zip code 68110, there have been 493 tested with 59 positive. Of those testing positive, 28.8% are Asian, 35.6% are African-American and 18.6% are Hispanic.
African-American and North Omaha leaders are strongly encouraging you to Stay Home, Stay Safe and Support the Village.
- Please stay home unless it is absolutely necessary that you leave the house. You should leave only for groceries, work or an emergency.
- Stay safe by following personal distancing and wearing a mask anytime you must go out for groceries or other emergency visits.
- Stay at least six feet away from others and group gatherings should be 10 or less.
- Please call Charles Drew Health Center (402-451-3553) or your health provider to get tested. Getting tested is free. Please call if you are concerned about having the virus or feel that you have been exposed.
- Please continue to wash your hands for 20 seconds.
- Sneeze into a Kleenex or at last resort into your covered elbow.
- Please wash hands immediately after sneezing.
- And, you can Support the Village by completing the census and voting. Do not let the virus stop you from completing the census online and voting in the general election.
- Completing the census will bring millions of dollars into North and South Omaha to help fill many needs.
- And, finally, you can support the Village by supporting black owned businesses, businesses owned by people of color and businesses in North and South Omaha.
Please share this information and keep your family and community safe.
Stay Home. Stay Safe. Support the Village!
Ted Lampkin: Rising to Meet the Challenge
Charles Drew Health Center
Growing up down the street from Charles Drew Health Center, Inc., it was no question for Ted Lampkin to give back to the community that helped raise him.
“I’m passionate about public health because I am a product of public health services. Coming up, my family and I used the services at Charles Drew.”
As the Associate Director of Behavioral Health Services, Ted has been on the front-line teaching and training team members in new approaches to behavioral health. It’s no surprise that when COVID-19 struck, Ted was front and center.
“My role was to help transition the Behavioral Health department from doing face-to-face therapy to telehealth therapy.”
While COVID-19 began to escalate, increasing evidence highlighted racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
“We made it easy for the patients, providing traditional face-to-face, telehealth, and when needed telephonic sessions. A lot of patients had anxiety about COVID-19 and being in the middle of a pandemic, in addition to their other stressers.”
“The benefit of telehealth is we can continue to provide quality service during a pandemic. You take out the barriers to care with telehealth.”
Brenda Avant: Providing Quality Healthcare in the Midst of COVID-19
Charles Drew Health Center
As a North Omaha native, Family Nurse Practitioner, Brenda Avant, understands educating her patients about their healthcare choices is a foundational principle to accessing safe and quality healthcare.
When the pandemic shut down Omaha metro schools, Brenda and the team members at Charles Drew Health Center, Inc. School-based Health Centers had to switch gears. While still providing in-person care, the SBHC Medical providers began utilizing telehealth to remain in contact with their patients.
“The telehealth program at Charles Drew really grew at that time. As Medical providers, we were able to continue serving our student patients through telehealth. The parents really enjoyed it because they felt even through a pandemic their child’s provider is still in tune with their needs.”
As the pandemic surged, the healthcare inequalities within the American health system began to come to the foreground. “It made me proud to see that Charles Drew was a front runner in COVID-19. The community was looking to us to help guide them through.”
“Charles Drew made it very easy for the population we serve to continue receiving care. We may be small, but we are mighty.”
Larry Duncan: Resiliency in the Face of a Crisis
Charles Drew Health Center
Hailing from the south side of Chicago, Larry Duncan, Director of Behavioral Health Services at Charles Drew Health Center, Inc. has always had a passion for helping others. “My passion, at first, started off with a drug and alcohol emphasis based on my own experiences and knowledge. As I grew and received more education, mental health became the next umbrella. It rests with my understanding that there are unique issues that affect black and brown people, and people who are marginalized.”
Within the first year serving at Charles Drew, Larry faced his biggest challenge yet, leading a team while in the mists of coronavirus. “The number one thing we did quickly was become active.” As COVID-19 began to highlight the care gaps within marginalized communities, the Behavioral Health team at Charles Drew looked to bridge those gaps within the community.
“For our population it was a dual threat. On one side of the coin, the crisis becomes an additional stress to a population of people who already live with stress. On the flip side of the coin, the lack of community and social interaction increased depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness.”
The message was simple, but practical: Practice the Five Cs–Connection, Commitment, Communion, Contain, and Continue.
Looking back, one of the greatest strengths of Charles Drew, in Larry’s eyes, was the ability to remain active. While most were waiting, frozen in their activity, Charles Drew advanced forward.
“We got better and better at it. We were doing testing on the front line when testing was just starting. As masks began to be required, we were handing them out to the community members in need. Whatever needed to be done in the face of this virus, we did it.”