By Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive
As I write this, we are nearing 2,000 COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County residents, both confirmed and probable. We have, unfortunately, also experienced over 150 deaths. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that great loss and extend deepest sympathies on behalf of the county to the families and friends of those we have lost. We also express our best wishes to all of those who have been impacted by the virus.
Since the first case was reported here on March 14, we have seen the most extraordinary things from around the world and here at home: the ingenuity and resilience of our health care workers, the extraordinary lengths the public has gone to protect themselves and others, and the community responses that have left neighbors singing to each other and children chalking messages of hope and care on their sidewalks. I’m so proud of the work that we have done as a community to meet this challenge, but not surprised. Allegheny County has always been a place where we come together to solve problems. Neighbors are helping neighbors. I never expected any less. And while working together and supporting each other, we’ve come together by staying apart.
Just as importantly, we have relied upon science and industry in this community to provide life-changing innovations, research and developments to allow us to meet this health challenge head-on. Thanks to those partnerships and interrelationships, we have been able to bring together resources to ensure that the most critical needs in our community are addressed. This is particularly true of the region’s foundations which have focused on sustaining services and programs that those who are most vulnerable in our community rely on. Through those efforts, Human Services and Health have continued to work to ensure that everyone in our community gets the essentials they need.
We also understand that people are experiencing an entire gamut of emotions – we feel sad, stressed, confused, scared and angry. No matter what you may be experiencing – a mental health concern, challenges with drug or alcohol addictions, worry related to the well-being of a child or older adult, or you or someone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse – there are resources available.
• If you need an immediate emergency response, call 9-1-1. And if you need assistance, but it’s not safe to call, Allegheny County utilizes text to 9-1-1, allowing text messages to receive emergency help.
• If you suspect child abuse, call Childline at (800) 932-0313 or CYF intake at (412) 473-2000.
• If you have concerns about the well-being of a person over the age of 60, please call (412) 350-6905 or (800) 344-4319.
• Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline anytime at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) to report domestic abuse. You can also log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522 if you cannot speak safely.
• If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 9-1-1 for an immediate emergency response. If you need support or information because of a mental health or drug or alcohol crisis or concern, contact the resolve Crisis Services at (888) 796-8226.
• Individuals seeking Drug and Alcohol treatment during this crisis can contact PA Get Help Now, (800) 662-HELP (A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year hotline staffed by trained professionals who will stay on the phone with the caller until a treatment provider with an opening is identified).
• If you are in need of other help, contact our partners at the United Way 2-1-1 or visit resources available on the county’s website at alleghenycounty.us/coronavirus, including a free food site map.
While we have made real significant progress, we remain in the middle of a crisis. My commitment to you is that we will remain focused on doing everything we can to make sure that our residents and staff are safe. The county’s employees are working on your behalf to protect people’s health and save lives. Their work is integral to our response and we are immensely grateful for that commitment. I couldn’t be more proud of the work that they are doing each and every day, tirelessly. They have given new meaning to the term “public servant.”
This is a new normal that has required all of us to adapt and do things in a new way. I understand that none of this has been easy. We’re used to being social. We’ve talked a lot about being physically distant but socially connected. That’s because it’s important to feel connected to people. Thank you for what you’ve done to date. Please continue to follow the rules and help us keep everyone safe.