Editorial: Some resources make dealing with pandemic easier

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic shows people with a support system and resources — particularly a tank of gas, a car and a reliable internet connection — have an easier time getting around in the community.

Need to get tested for COVID-19? Chances are it’s in a parking lot or at a clinic outside of a comfortable walking distance.

Unless you live in one of the nearby apartment complexes, it’ll be hard to walk to West End Plaza for the drive-thru vaccination clinic.

Public transit could be a good solution for either, but services have been scaled back during the pandemic, with hours limited during the weekdays and non-existent on the weekends.

That public transit isn’t a priority in local government budgets compounds problems being experienced now. To get from China Grove to West End Plaza for a vaccination appointment, for example, you’ll need to visit the county’s transit website, find options that work for the time you hope to arrive, walk or get a ride to the China Grove Town Hall or Food Lion, transfer to Salisbury Transit at the bus stops on Depot Street and wait for the route No. 2 bus.

Then, how does getting vaccinated work? Do you stand in a line of cars until it’s your turn?

If you don’t have reliable internet, the list of logistical considerations gets longer. You’ll need to make a trip to the nearest branch of the library at 10 a.m. Monday to reserve a vaccination appointment for that week. You could call the Rowan County COVID-19 information line at 980-432-1800, but county staff warn that wait times could be long.

Smartphones have become fairly ubiquitous, but not everyone can easily navigate the internet to sign up for a vaccination appointment. Data limitations on cellphone plans also are a consideration.

A son, daughter, grandchild or other family member who’s more technologically savvy or has a car solves any one of the aforementioned problems, but they aren’t always immediately available. Some people live alone and far away from family members.

When officials talk about inequities related to COVID-19, it’s worth considering structural barriers people need to scale. It’s important to sort out details of public transit bringing people to vaccine and testing sites. And it’s equally critical to get vaccine availability to the point that the Rowan County Health Department can resume first-come, first-served drive-thru events and churches, pharmacies and family doctors can offer doses. Otherwise, inequities will persist even if people decide they want to be vaccinated.