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United we stand. Divided we fall.

Health Promotion Coordinator Johnna White
by Johnna White05/01/2020 3:44 p.m.
Updated: 05/15/2020

Public health emergencies are stressful times for everyone. It can bring out the best—or worst—in people. 

Fear and anxiety about getting sick has led to increased stigma and discrimination towards certain people and communities, particularly Asian Americans. 

Everyone can get COVID-19. And anyone who’s ill deserves care and respect. 

Stigma hurts.

Stigma hurts everyone. It may take the form of social rejection, gossip, physical violence or denial of services.

It affects mental and physical health and can polarize the community. Research shows just anticipating stigma from other people can lead to anxiety and stress. 

An illustration of a crowd of people of different colors holding hands.

It also undermines our efforts to treat and limit the spread of disease. Socially rejecting people who are sick discourages them from getting tested or seeking treatment. 

Stigma brings people down in a time when we need to be resilient. When we work together and support our neighbors and community, we can all bounce back quicker.

Stereotypes hurt too.

Biases can lead to stereotyping like age and racial prejudices that harm communities.

Messages that suggest COVID-19 is an older person’s disease and that our elders are dispensable harms our social fabric. Suggestions that only older people with underlying health conditions die from COVID-19  aren’t true and cloud our judgement.

And if we assume all young people will fare well if they get COVID-19, then younger people may get a false sense of safety and feel they can  minimize social distancing. This assumption could harm young people with underlying health conditions or people who live with a family member at greater risk of serious illness. 

Likewise, if we focus on stereotypes that young people are irresponsible and selfish, we minimize all their positive contributions to our community, like the Eagle Scout volunteers who helped unload a semitruck full of supplies to Life Center Tacoma.   

There’s a better path. You can protect all people and help communities heal when you show love and respect to all people—regardless of ethnicity or age—by following the phased guidelines for COVID-19.

We take steps to prevent sickness for our own health and the health of our fellow community members.   

Support community healing.

Stigma and stereotypes divide us. This pandemic reminds us how connected we are. We all share vulnerability to COVID-19 and its health, social and economic effects. But some people experience negative effects more than others. These populations deserve our time and resources.

The data shows this. We know social, economic and environmental conditions like poverty, discrimination and violence are the greatest predictors of our health.  

Prejudice harms individuals and fuels negative community conditions. It has an unfortunate ripple effect on the health of our community. 

Stand up for good:

For more information about COVID-19, visit tpchd.org/coronavirus.  For more information on our work to create fair opportunities for health for everyone visit tphcd.org/healthequity

  1. Updated: 05/15/2020
  2. Updated: 05/04/2020
Health Promotion Coordinator Johnna White

by Johnna White

Johnna looks through an equity lens to advance local public health policy and decision making.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.