Executive Director’s Message: COVID-19 and Social Work

By Janlee Wong, NASW-CA Executive Director

As the pandemic continues and infection rates continue to grow, “states where community spread is occurring are in the acceleration phase.” We learn this from monitoring important accurate sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/summary.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fsummary.html

California is one of those states in the “acceleration phase.”  And we aren’t as prepared as we could have been. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), admitted before Congress that the “government is failing when it comes to the urgent imperative of making widespread testing available.”

Americans are problem solvers and act when the truth comes out. We trust our public health experts even when the President contradicts them. So, when they announced the fight against the pandemic has moved from containment to mitigation, we did what was needed to be done.

We heeded the call for social distancing to “flatten the curve” of growth of the infection rate. We did this by cancelling all public events, then cancelling school from kindergarten to graduate school. We reduced our travel by not flying and not taking public transit when we had other options. We even stopped attending religious services and some have postponed very important family events such as weddings. The latest is we’ve in a statewide “stay at home” mode and many businesses have been asked to close.  For the latest from our Governor, go to:

https://covid19.ca.gov/

We shifted from viewing the crisis from “over reaction, panic and hysteria” to taking it very seriously although we’re still trying to figure out how to work from home, what to do with the kids or should we visit the elderly parents and grandparents.

Social workers are like everyone and we all must grapple with this societal and cultural changes. Americans don’t like to have their freedoms impinged upon, but we also come together in times of crisis and need. Unlike most of the public, social workers, along with other social service and health care professionals and paraprofessionals have added duties and responsibilities. We’re called upon to serve in times of a health crisis because we are the bridge between a hospital and discharge to the community. We use our mental health skills to help with anxiety and depression for those stricken with the disease or are in isolation. We advocate for public policies that are the right ones even if we don’t personally agree with them. Many of our social workers are shifting from in person therapy to telehealth therapy.  For more information about this, go to the California Chapter and the National websites at:

https://www.naswca.org/page/covid-19-resources

https://www.socialworkers.org/Practice/Infectious-Diseases/Coronavirus

Information is coming and changing daily so keep checking websites to stay up to date. 

NASW commends the social workers in the front line of fighting this pandemic. We also support and encourage social workers whose lives have been significantly changed. We know that if a colleague or a neighbor, our kids, our families, or our partners need support with these significant but temporary changes, social workers know how to calm the unease and promote social unity. Thanks, social workers.

Janlee Wong,
NASW-CA Executive Director

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