Many of us are all too familiar with the systemic challenges and inequities made more visible by COVID-19, some of us more so than others. We’re now able to confirm what for many has already been apparent: COVID-19 has had a profound impact on all our lives, with severe consequences for many.
Today, we’ve released our COVID-19 Community Health Impact Assessment, a study that examines COVID-19’s impacts on five foundational community health priorities:
- Kindergarten readiness, as an indicator of child and family well-being
- Child care, as an indicator of employment and economic opportunity
- Housing security, the ability to retain safe and stable housing as a health determinant
- Homelessness, crisis intervention for unhoused individuals and families as a health determinant
- Behavioral health, including mental health outcomes and substance use behavior
Many of the issues explored in this assessment are long-standing problems now drawn in starker relief by this pandemic. The pandemic put significant stress on systems that were already known to be broken, further exposing and increasing health disparities, and heightening awareness of racial inequities and injustices for many Whatcom County residents.
The impacts of COVID-19 on our community extend far beyond these five community health priorities. Social isolation experienced by older adults, food insecurity, and domestic violence are among the important effects not examined in this assessment. The scope of this study is limited in part because it’s an update of the County’s 2018 Community Health Assessment. It provides a snapshot of conditions at the time the report was conducted. As rising case rates nationwide have recently demonstrated, the pandemic is not over. We’re still dealing with an ever-changing situation that continues to evolve.
This report will be presented at today’s Whatcom County Council Committee of the Whole meeting at 2:05 p.m. Go to www.whatcomcounty.us/joinvirtualcouncil for instructions or call (360) 778-5010. If you can’t make it, no worries! There are many more presentations across Whatcom County planned for the coming weeks.