With COVID – 19 cases and hospitalizations rapidly surging in Sedgwick County, Kansas, and the nation, the Wichita/Sedgwick County African American Council of Elders and the Wichita Black Alliance are launching #FACTSNOTFEAR, an outreach and education campaign to inform the community about the importance of following recommended health guidelines and to encourage individuals to make lifestyle changes to help mitigate the spread of this disease.
#FACTSNOTFEAR is particularly targeted at raising COVID-19 awareness in the African-American community through an integrated campaign combining social media, traditional media and virtual events.
In addition to reinforcing the absolute necessity of wearing a mask and social distancing, Council of Elders outreach will also provide data to the community about diabetes and other preexisting conditions that are COVID-19 risk factors.
“According to the American Diabetes Association, COVID-19 patients with diabetes have much higher rates of serious complications and death than people without diabetes,” said Elder Frances Jackson, of the Council of Elders. “We have an obligation to raise awareness of how diabetes, high blood pressure, and other preexisting conditions that are prevalent in the Black community can cause adverse COVID-19 consequences.”
REVEALING TOWN HALL PLANNED
The first #FACTSNOTFEAR virtual event will be a town hall on Tues., Nov. 23, 7 p.m. During the town hall participants “will meet people who have recovered from COVID-19 and unfortunately, they are going to meet some people whose family (members) have not recovered, and who actually passed away due to complications of COVID,” said Tijuana Hardwell, communications project manager for the initiative.
Also scheduled to participate in the town hall are urban health professional and Black psychologists.
“They (the psychologists) are going to be speaking about the hardships of having to social distance, what the impacts are on our elders, what are the impacts on other people when they have to play it safe and stay away from large groups of people,” said Hardwell.
African Americans are dying at a rate 2.5 times higher than other ethnic groups in the state, she said. Hospitals in Wichita are reaching capacity and more hospitalizations usually translates into more deaths.
The Council of Elders was awarded CARES Act funding to assist in strengthening and expanding their COVID – 19 outreach efforts and have identified Black and small business owners as vendors. Many local television stations, the Wichita Eagle, The Community Voice, and several urban podcasters are also included in the list of vendors who will assist in disseminating this important information to African-American households in Sedgwick County.