Risking your health to fight racism (Thank you!)
Racism is a public health threat we can’t ignore. Nor can we wait until the pandemic is over to address it. The violent, senseless death of George Floyd and the ensuing national outrage is a sobering reminder that violence against Black people has occurred in this country since our very beginnings. The Department of Health stands with our Black community members and all People of Color in solidarity, support, and love.
If you were one of many people in communities across our state who responded to this violent act with outrage, frustration, and peaceful protest, thank you! Addressing racism is critical to protecting public health and the well-being of our communities. Together, none of us is as healthy as we could be when so many in our communities aren’t given the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
Even outdoors, gathering in a large group to peacefully protest can increase your risk of catching COVID-19. The level of risk depends on how close you are to others, how long you stay in close contact, and how many people are gathered. If you are going to attend a protest with a large number of people, you cannot remove all risk.
If you decide to take that risk, please protect yourself and others as much as you can:
- Wear a cloth face covering.
- I know it’s crowded, but please try to stay six feet away from other people as much as possible.
- Stay home if you are even a little bit sick.
- Take hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently. Don’t pass up an opportunity to wash your hands with soap and water.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
There are many ways to mourn and show support
You do not have to attend a large gathering to protest the violence and injustice faced by Black people and other People of Color. You can reach out to your Black friends with a message of support. You can write to your local, state, and federal elected leaders and share your concerns and recommend reforms. You can learn about the historical and current impacts of racism on our communities. You can lead conversations with your children, family, and friends about systemic and structural racism, and, if you are white, about white privilege. You can help organizations you belong to become anti-racist. You can support businesses owned by People of Color.
Take care of your mental health during this difficult time
If you’re experiencing anxiety, sadness, fear, grief and anger right now, you aren’t alone. Many people are dealing with overwhelming feelings and intense stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the impacts of persistent inequities and racism. These stressors are not only hitting us all at one time, they amplify each other. The isolation and instability we are feeling because of the pandemic make it harder to handle and respond to the injustices we’re seeing. The health inequities marginalized and oppressed communities already experience are highlighted and intensified by the impacts of COVID-19.
Now more than ever, it’s important that you take care of yourself. Eating nourishing food, getting some physical activity, sleeping and staying connected to others are all critical to your health and well being. Take breaks from the news and social media, even if they’re brief. Practice compassion for yourself and others. It’s okay to ask for help, and there are many resources available to support your mental and emotional well being.
Don’t let outrage turn to hate or suspicions or fear. If you identify as white, listen to the People of Color in your life and hear what they have to share. Learn about their experiences to understand how their life has been impacted by systemic and structural racism.
Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.
Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.
Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our call center at
1–800–525–0127. Hours: 6 am-10 pm, seven days a week.
Department of Health call center: 1–800–525–0127, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m, seven days a week