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Most vulnerable hit hardest by COVID-19

More than half a year into a global pandemic, Chatham-Kent continues to monitor the human impacts of COVID-19.

An in-depth report provided to councillors during the Sept. 21 virtual meeting outlined concerns. According to the report, the vulnerable within the community have been hit particularly hard.

“It is a significant amount of information. A significant number of issues that are longstanding issues,” said April Rietdyk, General Manager of Community Human Services. “Teams have worked for years on the social determinants of health. I think COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on a number of areas.”

The report highlighted how physical distancing, which helps minimize the spread of COVID-19, has led to feelings of isolation and increased anxiety.

Additionally, the report noted COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Low German-speaking communities and temporary foreign workers due to living and working conditions along with language barriers.

Others impacted in the report include caregivers, parents, grandparents and health-care workers who are experiencing burnout.

Rietdyk said she will now conduct further consultations with community partners and priority groups. She is hopeful her findings and recommendations will be completed before the next municipal budget in case further funding is required.

“We need to talk now to the people that are living through COVID-19 and the people that are delivering front-line services,” said Rietdyk.

She added the importance of making sure all goals and recommendations align.

Steve Pratt, Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Chatham-Kent, said there have been more than 60 organizations involved in discussions since March concerning various immediate needs.

Through those roundtables, 77 programs have been funded, with approximately $1.37 million.

“We’re literally building the plane as we’re flying it,” said Pratt. “Seeing the results of some of these investments will help inform some of the recommendations of where we need to be putting some more focus on helping our vulnerable community members.”

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News

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