Take Charge Of Your Health Today. Be Informed. Be Involved.
This month, the Take Charge of Your Health page discusses COVID-19 and its impact in the past six months. With the number of COVID-19 messages coming across our television and phone screens daily, we are becoming overwhelmed with information about this virus that has taken the world by storm. In the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 was believed to only affect countries outside of the United States. As the virus has spread, now the United States is a known hot spot for COVID-19 and has taken the lives of more than 190,000 people (including more than 300 people in Allegheny County). We are challenged to mourn these deaths while still trying to comprehend the virus’s devastating effects and how best to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
As we navigate this pandemic together, we have lost, in one way or another, the sense of what is “normal.” What once was routine no longer feels as reliable now that our lives have become derailed. From employment, childcare, education, access to food and much more, we have had to shift into an unknown world where COVID-19 has controlled our lives for the past six months. Since March, when we began to self-quarantine, we have turned to religion, family, friends or community for support. Many of us have also turned to social media and other news sources in an ongoing attempt to gain an understanding of this virus.
Social media can be both helpful and harmful when it comes to learning about COVID-19. In this month’s Take Charge of Your Health page, researcher Beth Hoffman discusses the ramifications associated with this first pandemic during the social media era, which makes it easy for information and misinformation to spread rapidly. The results are leaving people with both a virus pandemic and an infodemic of misinformation about the virus. So we should ask ourselves, when reading Facebook posts or Instagram stories that we see on a daily basis, how we can decipher which information is true. This is all the more important when we consider how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black communities and continues to expose deep health disparities and social inequities.
Social media often fills people’s immediate urge for information with its instant access, but often such information itself also changes quickly, if it is even accurate to begin with. The spread of misinformation on social media is so concerning that the United Nations has begun a campaign called “Pause. Take care before you share,” which stresses sharing only trusted, accurate, science-based social media content (https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/06/106742?2). I, along with Ms. Hoffman and Dr. Sidani, encourage readers to “pause” before sharing information on social media.
Most of all, we need to be sure of reliable sources of information. For example, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is a great resource for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19
In recent numbers provided by ACHD, more than 10,000 people in Allegheny County have tested positive for COVID-19. With the death rate at 83% for people older than 70, we must do what we can every day to protect ourselves, as well as others. Wearing masks correctly, properly social distancing by staying six feet away from other people and washing our hands thoroughly and for at least twenty seconds are some basic ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.
2020 has been an unsettling year for us all. Our promise to you is that the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh will remain a trusted resource of information as we continue to navigate this pandemic together.
Please watch for the Take Charge of Your Health page next month when we shine a light on what it means to provide care during COVID-19.
Take charge and take care.
Yours in the Movement,
Esther L. Bush, President
Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh