Renewing Our Commitment to COVID-19 Safety

Author: Cat Goodyear, PA-C, Novant Health-GoHealth Urgent Care

This time last year, North Carolina was preparing to Shelter-in-Place, due to the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in our state and around the country. As we just passed the one-year milestone of this historic event, it is important to reflect on how our communities have managed the pandemic, and to renew our commitment to beating COVID-19. We have come so far in the fight against COVID-19, now is the time to double-down our efforts to vaccinate and prevent the spread of the virus. Let’s end this chapter in our history—and move forward smarter, safer, and stronger.

With the abrupt closing of schools, businesses, and workplaces, routines we depended on for social, physical, and emotional wellbeing collapsed quickly. Thankfully, our creative and persistent spirit was not broken, and we discovered new ways to meet these needs. From taking family bike rides to meeting with friends on Zoom, we managed quarantine with courage and ingenuity. Neighbors met outside in socially distanced circles, friends delivered meals on front porches, families skipped annual parties, and everyone washed their hands. Then washed their hands again!

YMCA facilities also closed, but leadership and staff regrouped and reopened with new purpose and expanded programming to serve their communities in many vital ways. Gymnasiums were converted to E-Learning Academies; childcare services expanded to allow first-responders, healthcare, and other essential employees to continue their work; many thousands of meals have been and continue to be provided to children and families; weekly blood drives began; calls were made to check-in on local senior citizens; and trainers developed virtual fitness videos that brought classes into homes.

These changes, and those of every individual who did their part, kept us going in body, mind, and spirit. One year later there is a vaccine available, and cases of the illness are declining steadily in our state. Between February 9 and March 8, the number of COVID-19 cases dropped by 74%; hospitalizations dropped by 48%, and in the past 8 weeks our state has administered more than 2.9 million doses of the vaccine in the fight against COVID-19. See the COVID-19 dashboard here: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard. These are impressive and encouraging statistics that every North Carolinian should celebrate.

Now more than ever is the perfect time to reflect on and renew our dedication to fighting COVID-19. With students returning to school, small businesses reopening, and YMCA facilities welcoming back members, it may feel like we can relax our behaviors and return to our “Pre-COVID-19” lives. I certainly share in the hope that the worst is behind us, but we are in no way finished with this race.

Ninety percent of North Carolina residents have not been vaccinated. New clusters of high infection rates continue to occur all over the state. We may see the finish line, but the only way we will cross it is with diligence and continuous effort. Every person needs to “Wash. Wait. Wear.” Wash your hands effectively and often. Wait at least 6 feet from others. Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Also, as difficult as it is, please avoid social gatherings that do not align with Gov. Cooper’s current executive order through March 26: 25 people for indoor and 50 people for outdoor events.

North Carolina is doing an excellent job of vaccinating residents! Large health systems are now offering the COVID-19 vaccine to Groups 1, 2, and 3, which includes all healthcare providers and staff, Long-Term Care residents and staff, anyone 65 years and older, and all school and child- care workers. Getting vaccinated is our best chance at ending the pandemic so please, “Find your spot to take your shot”!

We have come so far and have already sacrificed so much, but we can and must WIN this race! Please join the YMCA and your community to end COVID-19 and celebrate health and happiness together.

Here are two ways to schedule your vaccine:

●             Call the COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center at 1-888-675-4567 (Free Call)

●             Make an appointment online at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines/find-your-spot-take-your-shot