CHAN Offers Community Action for Health
By Dianne Anderson
Eyes still roll at the persistent prodding to get the jab, but maybe not so much lately as the nation watches ICU hospital beds fill past capacity, spilling over into tents and hospital parking garages.
The impact of the Delta variant is hitting communities of color harder, faster and younger than the original COVID-19. At the rate it’s going, recent estimates from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predict 107,000 more people across the nation will die in the U.S. by December.
There is no time like the present.
Early on in the pandemic, Cornelious “CJ” Page Jr., said the community was responding favorably to the data, that Pzifer is 94% effective, Moderna is 93% effective, J&J one-shot is 64% effective, and that only 1% of all vaccines resulted in side effects.
“We partnered up with a lot of churches, especially African American people were blowing up the phones, this was early on. I was proud we were reaching those numbers, people coming out,” said Page, founder and Executive Director of Community Health Action Network (CHAN) in Victorville.
But misinformation and fear crept in.
People are afraid of a Tuskegee experiment repeat, or suspicious about unsubstantiated research. Through CHAN outreach efforts, they have hosted several vaccine sites and popup clinics in partnership with local churches.
Despite the 1% breakthrough cases of those that have had the shot, the CDC reports that nearly all those now in hospitals, and those who are dying, are unvaccinated.
Last year, COVID-19 Alpha was responsible for the deaths of 350,000 people. This year, at last count, over 190 million Americans, including half of all children over 12 years old, are now fully vaccinated.
But the Delta variant shows no signs of letting up, even as the huge gap with Blacks and Latino hesitancy remains.
“With the growing spread of the more transmissible Delta variant, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are once again rising, largely among unvaccinated people. While White adults account for the largest share (57%) of unvaccinated adults, Black and Hispanic people remain less likely than their White counterparts to have received a vaccine, leaving them at increased risk, particularly as the variant spreads,” the Kaiser Family Foundation reports.
Page, who has Type 2 diabetes, said others like himself with pre-existing conditions are more at risk with COVID-19, even more so with the variant.
He was convinced by the research, and got the shot. It was sad to say goodbye to a fellow pastor earlier this year who passed away from COVID, unvaccinated.
“For me and my family, I knew I had to take that step,” he said.
At CHAN, they help the community in several ways, including hosting and partnering with popup clinics, utility assistance for the hard to reach in Barstow. He received funding for Victorville, which helps him reach older Black seniors. He also partners with High Desert Second Chance Food Bank to give away nutritious food, and he takes the time and opportunity to offer COVID-19 education.
The community has been asking great questions.
“We screen, and if they say no, we ask why,” he said. “I’m very passionate about my people to educate them. That’s what I love about my people, they listen, they ask inquisitive questions as long as you can give them a chance.”
His nonprofit has always focused on health, education and community action. For the past two years, they have also focused on the census, and more recently redistricting, which is one of the outcomes of the Census, and how the community can receive more resources.
Currently, CHAN is holding workshops and is inviting community leaders to get involved. One concern is that the community needs quick access to hospital care. He said the area is becoming overpopulated and people often go to San Bernardino for care. Other upcoming redistricting events will be held in September and October.
Kisha Collier, CHAN program director, said she got vaccinated back in April, 90 days after she had COVID-19, which was serious, but she wasn’t hospitalized.
It left her extremely weak for four days, but with nine people in her family household, and two children, she said she had to pull through. The children were alright, but her sister nearly died.
Just recently, her sister started getting up and around since being hospitalized last November.
“She’s even vaccinated now. She understands what it feels like to be literally hanging by a thread on the ventilator, intubated. She already has asthma, she went from zero to 100 really quick,” Collier said. “But they’re saying Delta is so much worse.”
She said her entire family from both sides are from the South with typical chronic pre-existing conditions, and that means typical chronic illnesses,m diabetes, high blood pressure, COPD.
“That’s why we’re trying to break that generational curse with my family. No one had any adverse reaction to the vaccine,” she said.
To get vaccine information or help with resources, see https://chanhd.com/about-us
To see the Kaiser Foundation COVID race report,