Dipping into the Gulf Coast Sunset

Dipping into the Gulf Coast Sunset

Posted on December 24, 2021 by Cheri Coryea, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

Editor's Note: Save the links and resources in our final posting to stay updated on COVID testing, vaccines, boosters, and more. We plan to keep our webpage available on The Patterson Foundation's website under current/past initiatives Covid-19 Response.

Amplifying a message that contains a robust collection of resources across many sectors is a challenge. Ensuring that the information is presented in a current, accurate, and informative way yet doesn't dictate is a challenge. Being mindful of an audience and how each person obtains essential information is a challenge.

Despite these challenges, our mission has been to collectively learn, consider, and share information and resources relevant to the Suncoast region during this unpredictable global pandemic. There are differences in approaches to conquering COVID-19, yet all of the partners in our four-county area respected each other's role in the journey. We know the journey is not over by any means. Still, as the Amplifying What Works COVID-19 Response newsletter team contemplated winding down and sunsetting this publication, our goal was to provide a consistent and widespread message of where to get information to make informed decisions. In doing so, we wanted to share our reflections on the past nine months of messaging.

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In March 2021, The Patterson Foundation began the weekly newsletter with 120 subscribers throughout Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Those subscribers shared the newsletter with their partners, and their partners shared it with co-workers, friends, and clients. Each week, we received several subscription requests and knew the word was getting out. Now, the weekly newsletter reaches more than 420 subscribers directly with each publication.

This interest supported our quest to provide relevant articles that allowed readers to delve deeper into various subject matters. Connecting people to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local health departments, hospitals, healthcare workers, and experiences of people directly impacted by COVID-19 helped our readers feel connected, less isolated, and better prepared for COVID and beyond.

Hearing the stories of the daunting task of our frontline healthcare workers gave us a glimpse into what they faced daily. It shed light on something we all had in common; we were all scared. These amazing people weren't just found in hospitals and doctor's offices, but they were our neighbors and friends. We learned from them as they rose above the daily fight against a relentless opponent, one that ate supplies like chocolates on Valentine's Day and preyed on those with compromised health conditions. We gained a newfound respect for the medical field and how healthcare workers are coping with a formidable foe through it all.

"Wash your hands, wear your mask" sounds a lot like being back in third grade, but how surprising to be reminded that these simple tasks, in most cases, could drastically reduce your chances of severe illness. Checking your county's data each day to see the infection rate in your area has been like watching the morning weather forecast to see if there would be showers. Determining when and where you could go to avoid crowds became the question of the day, and there were always very differing opinions. Even your most relied upon products, paper towels, and toilet paper, were so scarce that fights broke out when available. And hand sanitizer, how many different brands have emerged. I bet you don't leave home without it.

Resources didn't become scarce with the newsletter. Instead, they became abundant. Testing sites, vaccination locations, booster information, therapies, symptom relief, and more came from across the region and beyond. The way to defeat a formidable foe is to be educated, informed, resilient, and prepared. That strategy describes our readers and teams of people sharing information far and wide to help others. When COVID threw us a curveball with Delta and Omicron, our communities knew what to do to stay safe. However, we know everyone has had moments where they questioned their next steps because rumors abound, advice is plentiful, it's challenging to know what to believe and what to discount. For these reasons, we learned to share, not judge, learn not discredit, and care and support each other. As we say farewell and the sun begins to set on our newsletter this week, we learned the following:

We are prepared with resources, knowledge, and information!

Most importantly, we are ever connected by a force that tried to take away our trust and belief in one another, but we continue to rise above it. Thank you for your support, and be safe!


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