It’s Public Health Week this week (April 6-12, 2020) here in the United States. Public Health is a common set of words heard by those of us involved in emergency management and continuity but to a total stranger, these words aren’t as common, until now – until the COVID-19 era. Each business day, I start drafting a communications memo for COVID-19 updates and I thoroughly listen to the daily speeches of Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike, MD, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health as she passionately gives updated information on how COVID-19 is impacting my great state. I’m very thankful for her updates and her department as a whole. The Department of Public Health and the discipline of public health in general are critical to relations between the public, first responders and emergency management, media and healthcare workers.

I’m public health; many of us are public health.

Before the term coined, public health, many of us in the emergency management area were effectively public health officials in our very own ways. A lot of coordination and collaboration efforts involved in public health were adopted from emergency management. Public health officials still continue to need the skills and services of emergency management which are often the boots on the ground during crises. In my first Master Degree, my education heavily concentrated on emergency management and public health so public health itself is nothing new to me. But lately, it is definitely something I’m hearing more about and ensuring that I’m also educating myself more about. Training never stops for professionals like us, especially for someone as young as me in terms of experience with crises. I have a feeling though that COVID-19 is really going to allow us to gain a lot of different types of experience in our fields and areas of study.

The Public should know what Public Health is!

Public health isn’t just the people swooping in to tackle this COVID-19 crisis! Everyone in all communities across the nation has a right to live longer lives and be healthy. Public health’s mission is just that – enabling all of us to be able to live long healthy lives in our communities. When a global pandemic isn’t occurring, public health is still working strong and long hours in improving the health of the public all over the United States. Public health doesn’t just focus on infectious disease crisis management; they are focus on improving mental health management capacities, prevention of domestic violence and child abuse, helping public housing be healthy places and promoting the health of the natural environment as well. Public health was for the public and will always serve with the public as priority in mind and it is important that we all know and understand that.

Ways to celebrate Public Health Week…

Since we’re dealing with COVID-19 and habitually practicing social distancing, it is important to be innovative about the way we celebrate Public Health Week 2020. All public health events have been cancelled to comply with CDC guidelines. So I see this as an opportunity to really learn what public health officials are doing for us by paying attention to their daily speeches and website updates, reading articles posted by them and even thanking a member of healthcare for doing what they’re doing. If you can donate masks and PPE, do so. Also take care of your own health as a way to celebrate it by walking around the block while practicing social distance and getting more steps. Eating healthier is also important and keeping in touch (if by phone or video conferencing) with close family and friends. Just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t pick up the phone and give someone a call.

To end this article, I want to give a big thanks to Public Health workers and organizations all over the country and even the world – without you, we wouldn’t be where we are today, beating this virus. Thank you for reading this article and please feel free to share it. Comment down below with more thankful feedback and remember, please be safe my friends.