THE PANDEMIC IS OVER, THE WORK IS NOT:
The Northeast Mississippi Coalition Against COVID 19 began in 2021 as result of collective community involvement around COVID 19 advocacy and COVID 19 vaccine access. Through these efforts we were able to accomplish many things including delivering close to 2600 vaccines across Northeast MS, providing vaccine information and supporting community partners’ efforts.
Although our name referenced the once in a century pandemic, we recognized early that there was significant work needed in improving community health pre-pandemic. This work has only gotten more complex as we’ve moved to the end of the public health pandemic emergency.
To that end, the Coalition is committed to the better health of the community and the continued engagement with the community and our partners. We look forward to being an active partner in the community. We look forward to be a source of health information, health advocates and participants in the problem-solving processes.
WHERE DID COVID GO? WHAT DOES THE END OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY MEAN?
On May 11, 2023, without much fanfare, the US national emergency response to the COVID 19 pandemic ended. According to AP News, the national emergency allowed the government to take sweeping steps to respond to the virus and support the country’s economy and public health. Many programs were scaled back or stopped in the last 6-8 months so that there has been anticipation for the now end of the pandemic emergency. From a health perspective, this makes sense as COVID-19 has become a known viral illness with recognized patterns of spread, established preventive strategies, effective vaccines, effective treatments and now a growing research body into the long-term effects. With this knowledge, COVID 19 has moved into the more traditional model of disease prevention and management alongside other significant viral diseases that we have more experience like the seasonal flu. This transition does not make COVID 19 any less impactful, risky, nor does it make it less deadly. Still today, hundreds of people everyday die of COVID 19 and complications. We expect COVID 19 to have additional surges, additional vaccine recommendations, additional therapies and additional strategies to prevent COVID 19. We also anxiously wait the additional research into Long-COVID particularly how we can diagnose, manage and treat this significant consequence.
The Coalition was founded amidst the pandemic and we plan to continue our service to the community beyond the COVID 19 pandemic. Just as the pandemic highlighted yet unrevealed strengths in our community and organizations, it turned a spotlight to pre-existing challenges and in most instances made health inequalities and challenges worse. We the leaders of the Coalition will work diligently to continue our engagement, advocacy and service in the community.