As we adjust to life during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all taking urgent steps to protect our health, the health of the people we love, and the health of people most vulnerable. The rapid spread of the virus is forcing changes to our day-to-day lives at breakneck speed, and reminding us of how closely connected we are to each other. We also recognize that in times of crisis, social inequities are heightened and the burdens of the crisis often fall on those that are most vulnerable.
As a science based organization, we urge you to please heed the advice of local, state, and federal health and safety officials. The best advice is to stay home, and when that’s not possible, practice social distancing of at least six feet when out in your communities. There is helpful information about protecting yourself and your community from COVID-19, published by Washtenaw County Health Department here, from the State of Michigan, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.
We have closed the Ecology Center’s offices in Ann Arbor and Detroit to the public, and virtually all of our employees are now working remotely. You can contact our staff by email or phone, and all of our public meetings and events, including our Health Leadership programs, are being moved online. Recycle Ann Arbor’s curbside collection service, drop-off station, and Recovery Yard are open, and the current status of RAA’s operations can be found here.
We’d also encourage you to support community relief efforts. There are a number of community-initiated support networks that have been established throughout Michigan. Here is a brief list of some of them in Michigan and Washtenaw County:
New Michigan COVID-19 hotline - 1-888-535-6136, to talk with public health experts about health-related questions and resources, open seven days a week, 8am - 5pm.
In all of the Ecology Center’s work, we counsel preparedness and prevention, instead of emergency response. We call for “precaution,” to avoid using chemicals until they are known to be safe, instead of responding after the fact, to catastrophes like the Flint Water Crisis or the PFAS contamination of drinking water. We call for “mitigation,” to phase out fossil fuels as soon as possible, before Line 5 pollutes the Great Lakes, and before the climate crisis wreaks havoc far worse than the coronavirus.
But when any crisis hits, we need to come together, and respond as best we can, with a focus on addressing the needs of those suffering the most. We will be a voice for justice and health as this crisis unfolds, as we will in events to come.
At the same time, we will continue to do our work, to fight for clean air in Detroit, safe water in Michigan, healthy communities across the region, non-toxic households, solutions to the climate crisis, and all of the above. We will continue to tell important stories about the change we can make together. So, please expect that you’ll keep hearing from us about the work that continues, every single day, even in the midst of the global pandemic.
Thank you for all your support. Now, more than ever, we need to come together -- not in person, but as a movement -- to work for healthy people and a healthy planet.
Published on March 19, 2020