What an eye opening twenty minutes I had with the head of the DuPage Health Department.
We went over a handful of different topics from the status of COVID-19 in DuPage County, to the importance of masks, to what parents of school age children should know, to suicide and drug overdose deaths.
Here are my takeaways from the conversation:
1. WEAK YOUR MASK!
With the gradual re-opening of the state at the beginning of the month, Ayala says it’s important now more than ever to be wearing a mask. She says the number one way we can open up schools safely and continue the downward trend of the virus locally is by containing the spread of the virus, and the best way to do that is masks, social distancing and hand washing.
2. COVID-19 IN CHILDREN IS UP SIGNIFICANTLY
According the DCHD numbers, the percentage of positive cases attributed to young people is way up in the month of July. Before July first, kids 10-19 years old only made up 5% of positive cases. Since July 1st, that number rose to 17%…a 340% increase. Adults 20-29 years old made up 15% of cases pre-July. Since July 1st, that number is now 24%…an increase of 160%! Ayala made it clear those cases were generally mild, but the larger concern was those individuals spreading it to more at-risk members of their social circles.
3. SUICIDE AND DRUG OVERDOSES ARE UP 50% SINCE LAST YEAR
Wow. There’s a sobering number, right? According to Ayala, economics isn’t the only reason to reopen the state. Social isolation and the uncertainty of going out in public is causing a lot of stress, and added stress, unfortunately, leads to upticks in suicides and drug overdoses. The DuPage County Health Department wants to make it abundantly clear how important it is to reach out for help if you are feeling overwhelmed, and for all of us to be caring, loving neighbors and reach out to others who you think may be having a hard time.
Your emotional response to COVID-19 is normal, but if symptoms worsen, you may need the help of a professional to assist you in the process. DCHD offers residents many services, including:
• Crisis Services. If you are experiencing a crisis, call (630) 627-1700, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or click here.
• Behavioral Health Services. A wide range of services are available for DuPage County residents who are experiencing symptoms related to mental health or substance use, which may be impacting your daily life. Treatment programs are offered at our public health centers in Wheaton, Addison, Westmont and Lombard. To learn more, call (630) 682-7400 or click here.
Help is also available from other sources, including:
• The Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances. If someone you know is suffering from an opioid use disorder or other substance use disorders, call the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances at 1-833-2FINDHELP to speak with a trained professional for support and advice or to be directed to customized resources or visit HelplineIL.org.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
• Call4Calm. This free textline is available if you or someone you know needs emotional support. Text TALK to 552020 for English or HABLAR for Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week. Callers seeking assistance remain anonymous and will provide only their first name and zip code, which enables the service to link you to a counselor in your area who is
knowledgeable about available local resources.
• Veteran’s Crisis Line. To reach caring, qualified responders within the Department of Veterans Affairs, connect with the Veterans Crisis Line. This free support is confidential, available 24/7, and serves all veterans, service members, their families and friends. Call 1-800-273-8255 or text: 838255. Support is available for the hearing impaired, call 1-800-799-4889.
4. GO TO YOUR DOCTOR!
While social distancing and staying home are still advised to slow the spread of COVID-19, Ayala said she heard from the hospitals in DuPage County that people have been waiting too long to see their doctors, especially for emergencies! It has gotten to the point where they even created a dedicated health initiative called Your Health Matters.
Yes, it’s safe to go to your doctors office or hospital. Do not wait to get the health care you need! If you feel uncomfortable going in, many doctors can check you out remotely! The bottom line is that if you are feeling any sort of health issue, call your doctor and get the help you need as soon as you can! That goes for both physical and emotional help as well.
Thanks to Karen Ayala for her time and for all the hard work at the DuPage County Health Department!