A year and a half since the COVID-19 pandemic turned our world upside down, we are still fighting at every level — city, county, state, nation … planet — to come out on the other end.
For LifeStyles, the pandemic has affected everything we do. We can’t serve those in need in the ways that would be easiest and most effective. We can’t bring as many people together at once. Come winter, our Safe Nights shelters may once again have limited capacity.
So we are 100% committed to doing everything we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Because we work closely with health organizations every day, we’ve come to know that vaccinations, masking and testing are the most effective tools at our disposal in this pivotal moment. Every week, through our partnership with the state and local Departments of Health, we offer opportunities for men, women and children to be vaccinated or tested for COVID.
“Think of your loved ones,” LifeStyles Community Health Worker Debborah Collins said. “Think of the children who cannot get vaccinated or those who want the vaccine but cannot take it due to an illness. Many of us have had loved ones pass away due to COVID. Think of how a vaccine and a mask can help you and others.”
Each weekend, LifeStyles hosts community events along with other community organizations and our health partners to offer critical medical services to those in need. They might be mammograms or diabetes screenings. But now they also include free COVID vaccinations and testing — whether the person has health insurance or not.
Vaccinations alone may not be enough to completely stop the spread of the virus, but it greatly reduces the chances of severe symptoms and hospitalization.
In fact, Maryland state data last month showed that unvaccinated individuals made up 96 percent of COVID infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
To help encourage those on the fence to get vaccinated, LifeStyles is offering incentives including gas cards, gift cards and gift bags full of unique items to promote healthy living. For children 12 and older who are eligible to receive the vaccines, LifeStyles offers kid-friendly incentives that include gift bags with gift cards and PPE items and fun items they can use in school, such as masks, pencils, water bottles and lip balm.
For those who are concerned that they may have contracted the virus, testing is available by the Charles County Department of Health at the Fuller House in Waldorf every Tuesday from 1:30pm to 2:30pm or as long as it takes for everyone to be tested. A valid ID is required, and results are typically available within 48 hours.
We know that overcoming this deadly pandemic will take a full community effort. We are committed to doing our part, and we hope all will join us. With so much at stake, it may be one of the most important things we ever do.