Faith leaders hear health perspectives on COVID-19
In late March, the Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho (FLLC) saw a need to speak truthfully about the pandemic with facts and a commitment to "love our neighbors as ourselves."
In April, Bob Lutz, M.D., Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer, spoke at the FLLC Truthful Tuesday Vigil on these challenging times, lifting up how the pandemic is impacting everyone but doing it disproportionately.
"The full extent of the impact on our marginalized communities is still being revealed," he said.
He urged people to come together with wisdom and compassion.
"We are more the same than different," he said, pointing to the need to recognize people's common humanity.
In April, Mayor Ben Wick from the City of Spokane Valley reported on the daily connections between city and county elected officials as they work together to create solutions they can offer in one voice. At 10 a.m. each day, they have virtual conferences open to the public. He said the city is helping its hungry and small businesses.
At the May Truthful Tuesday Vigil, participants learned about COVID-19 from Luis Manriquez, M.D., of Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and the new street medicine team working with Spokane's homeless population. He said the pandemic spread in Washington has been less destructive than it could have been because of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy directives.
Because there is no medical intervention to stop this disease, when people are ill, health care can only support them as they go through the experience, he commented.
"While it looks like people are exhausted with things happening, or not happening," he said, "we need to remember that the lack of cases is because we took action.
"The virus is active in Washington State even when no one sees it happening," he said, reporting that in Wenatchee, 72 orchard workers were tested and half had coronavirus despite showing no symptoms.
Luis encouraged two actions: 1) Everyone must help each other stay safe by using good hygiene practices to slow the spread. 2) People need to be prepared for the increase of homelessness and hunger.
"Much of the fallout will not be medical, but social," he said.
He challenged people to consider what kind of world they want to live in after this experience and to work for the world they would like to see come from this.
"We are all in the same storm but not all in the same boat," he added.
While not a sailor, he said the maritime duty for any sailor is to come to the aid to others in need. Those at sea recognize that people need each other to get through.
"Whatever resources and privileges we have, it is incumbent upon us to help others," he said.
On testing and antibodies, Luis said that more testing will be needed, as case identification will be the main tool to slow the spread of infection. Antibody testing continues to develop. Many tests are not reliable. It is not yet proven that antibodies give immunity and to what level that immunity will protect people.
Members of the Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience shared words of encouragement at recent Truthful Tuesday Vigils.
In a message from the Jewish community and from her experience as a physician, Pam Silverstein called on everyone to act for the good of all.
Naghmana Ahmed-Sherazi spoke of the Muslim teachings to care for each person's wellbeing.
Joan Berkowitz shared a poem from the Jewish community, and Lani Delong brought encouragement from the atheist point of view, including that the wearing of a mask is an act of compassion for others.
The next Truthful Tuesday at 5 p.m., June 9, is on gun safety, because June is the second annual observance of National Gun Violence Awareness Month. It will be on the Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience Facebook page. Speakers are Rosie Zhou of Students Demand Action and Laurie Dwyer of Moms Demand Action.
Gen Heywood - Guest Editorial
Copyright@ The Fig Tree,June, 2020