For the publisher:
Long-term investment in public health awareness builds confidence. Rural and urban communities have lost faith in government and utilities which have suffered years of neglect and funding. Vulnerable groups in both urban and rural areas seem to have given up – we must reach out to them with a message of help and hope.
We could start by using $ 85 million in proposed aquarium cash – including funds from the cruel austerity budget during the pandemic – to fund public health awareness.
Not only is funding aggressive outreach for the next generation the right thing to do, but healthcare is our county’s biggest employer. Outreach programs should include basic public health programs, free rapid Covid tests, door-to-door vaccination efforts that will build confidence, while growing our local economy.
We need fast, free covid testing, like in Colorado, with an understanding of the benefits and limitations of testing.
The goal should be to improve health outcomes, quality of life and improve the long-term productivity of county residents, which happens to be the definition of economic development. Train and hire BIPOC to run urban and other clinics and rural residents to run them in outlying areas. Puerto Rico is a prime example of aggressive outreach in one of the poorest parts of the United States. Growing scholarships and training programs should be invested.
We live in a broken health care system that is in need of extensive restructuring. Change will take time and must come from federal and local governments. We are at a crossroads with a unique opportunity to use local funding to change the course of the current pandemic and the future of our county.
Will we build an aquarium with its promise of wealth trickling down the vein of our local mall, or will we make an investment in our economy and public health that will pay dividends for generations?
If you would like a change, please call your county legislator and county executive now. Otherwise, I fear we will get stuck in a mistrust and poverty that will only get worse over time.
Dr Sunny Aslam
Aslam was an unsuccessful candidate last month for the county legislature.
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