Knowledge is an Important Tool
Dear Eastie neighbors,
Some of you may have seen the recent data from the Boston Public Health Commission showing that East Boston has a Covid-19 infection rate of 27 cases per 10,000 residents, the second highest in Boston’s neighborhoods behind Hyde Park. While this information is troubling, there are a few important things for us to keep in mind when looking at the data.
The first is that a high rate of confirmed cases means that the neighborhood is testing at higher levels. Knowledge is an important tool in the battle against this virus. The high testing numbers highlight the incredible work that our local neighborhood clinics like the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center are doing.
Currently, testing is not yet widely available to the general public. Testing sites, including the one at Suffolk Downs, are focusing on testing first responders like our nurses, doctors, and EMS personnel that are on the front lines of the fight against this virus. Because of this limited testing availability, the current numbers of confirmed cases also indicate neighborhoods with a higher concentration of these first responders. The current neighborhood breakdown of cases does not necessarily mean that a particular neighborhood is a hotbed of Covid-19 cases.
We should still take this data very seriously and continue to follow social distancing guidelines outlined by the CDC. We all have a part to play in the fight against the coronavirus. For most of us that means staying home as much as possible, covering our nose and mouth if we do leave the house, and making sure we stay at least six feet away from other people when doing essential tasks like grocery shopping or picking up medicine from the pharmacy. If we all do our part we will be successful in flattening the curve. East Boston is a resilient neighborhood and I am confident in our collective ability to adapt, stay strong, and move forward from this crisis more united than we were before it.
I want to thank all of the first responders and medical personnel as well as the hospital cleaners, garbage collectors, delivery drivers, grocery store workers, and all other essential workers that put themselves at risk every day to help. We could not do this without you!
Now is an Important Time to Consider Quitting Smoking and Vaping
We all know that smoking is harmful to one’s lungs. As our lives are disrupted by the coronavirus, this fact raises concerns about the damaging impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) may have on those who smoke or vape. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says, “Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape.” While the long-term impact of vaping is not clear, there is evidence coming out that vaping, like smoking, harms the ability of the lungs to fight infection.
Despite the stressful times we’re living in, people who smoke or vape may want to quit to improve their ability to fight the coronavirus. The stress may have led others to relapse and start smoking or vaping again. It’s never too late to try to quit,
People who smoke and vape know how hard it is to quit because nicotine, the drug in tobacco and vaping products, is highly addictive. Repeated tobacco and nicotine use is not a habit, it’s an addiction and quitting can takes several tries before one can quit for good. Many tobacco users say quitting is the hardest thing they’ve ever done; however, with planning, support, and dedication, many people quit for good.
Now may be a good time for those who smoke or vape to call the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free coaching and support 24 hours each day, seven days a week. Enroll online, access quit planning tools, peer support and motivational text messages at KeepTryingMA.org.
Up to eight weeks of FREE nicotine replacement help from patches, gum or lozenges are available through the Helpline (with medical eligibility). With coaching and quit medication people can be twice as likely to quit for good compared to those who try to quit on their own.
Quitting improves one’s health right away; lungs start to heal, and the body starts to repair its ability to fight infection. For more information, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit KeepTryingMA.org.
Edgar Duran Elmudesi