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Listen to the experts, health officials urge

With the state of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Public Health trying to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission, which data shows has hit communities of color hardest, some people remain skeptical about getting tested, because they believe the coronavirus is a hoax or are otherwise misinformed.

The Will County Health Department is urging members of the public to listen to the experts.

Carrie Jackson, a program manager and resource coordinator for COVID-19 at the Will County Health Department, said it’s important to remind people that local health department officials are working long hours to educate the public on how to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s the outreach that I and other people at the health department are doing to make sure that the community knows,” she said. “I’m out all the time.”

In recent months, the Will County Health Department has done outreach at food banks and mobile food pantry events that pop up in and around the county.

Jackson said it’s hard work trying to get information into the hands of people in the community with the intention of directing them to visit the county health department’s website for more information.

“There’s so much false information out there,” she said. “We want to make sure people know the facts about where they can get tested. The health department follows the science. They’ll get the correct information from us.”

The county health department’s website does not provide aggregate information on how many people of color have been tested for coronavirus throughout the pandemic.

It remains unclear if people of color are taking the virus seriously enough to get tested for COVID-19.

Jackson said she is not privy to what the data may show, but it is clear that a majority of places where testing is done is meant to help reduce barriers to communities of color.

“Obviously, everyone in the community can get a test through the health department,” she said. “We want anyone who needs a test or think you may have it to get a test of course, but I know that we’re focusing on when we go out to our public multiple sites in the Black and brown communities because they’re the ones hit the hardest from all the information that’s been reported on. The numbers overall show it’s affecting these communities drastically.”

Carrie acknowledged that some are skeptical about what the health department is doing, but said there are also people who give thanks to her in other instances for what’s she doing trying to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I think a couple people came around,” she said, noting how she had to explain the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. “Not everybody realizes that. I want to make sure that they do because then hopefully, they’ll take it more seriously—wearing their mask and social distancing. “

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