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About SOWN Together

SOWN Together is SOWN's COVID-19 print newsletter for Philadelphia area older adults. It provides the latest COVID-19 news, resources, and positive stories from the community. SOWN Together is produced biweekly and mailed to all SOWN participants. To be added to the mailing list, please contact Jill Smith, Newsletter Coordinator, at 215-487-3000 ext. 24 or jsmith@sown.org. Each issue is also made available on our website. This project is funded by The Knight-Lenfest Fund, The Independence Public Media Foundation, Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and Knight Foundation. The goal of the Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund is to use news and information to empower vulnerable communities to make more informed decisions and support resiliency efforts in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Issue 1

Welcome to the first issue of SOWN Together Of the many services SOWN provides, a newsletter is the newest. It is designed for all participants, past and present, and was named by Saundra Atwell, a current member of Philly Families Connect. Here’s what it does for everyone:

  • SOWN Together provides current and correct information about the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
  • SOWN Together has stories from our readers, links for finding services, and, sometimes, a recipe.
  • SOWN Together responds to your questions, invites your suggestions, and welcomes your contributions to future issues.
Twins? Now!?
Tonya McBryde was the first person to join the first group of Philly Families Read Together. I spoke with Tonya in late July. Following is her experience of living in a world dominated by COVID-19. Q.: When did you first hear about COVID-19?

I first learned about the new virus at the end of March. People were talking more and more as it went on. There were 12 deaths and then more in different states. I got news daily from Channel 6 and CNN. Q.: How did you respond? I knew I had to act fast for masks, sanitizer, gloves – but nothing was left! I was looking for something in our cleaning closet and found masks and gloves. I
didn’t know they were there! Q.: How do you stay safe? I have a sign in the bathroom and kitchen, “Wash your hands.” Anyone other than family coming into the house, put on a mask. Anyone leaving the house, put on a mask. The oldest grandchild watches the news with us. I explain, “You have to be safe.” She knows and will say, “Mom-mom, I need my mask.” Q.: Is there a blessing in all this? My grandchildren are 7 years old, 4 years old, and the twins are 4 months. When my daughter went to the hospital, she had wipes and wore double masks in the delivery room. The twins lighten our world. One is attached to Pop-pop; one is in her own world. They are changing every day.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Tonya who she thought could explain to the younger generation how serious this is? She didn’t miss a beat to say, “Michelle Obama!” “Herd Immunity”
What’s that?
When doctors and reporters describe what it will take to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, or any virus, they talk about “herd immunity.” The “herd” is humans, “immunity” is protection, and it all depends upon having a vaccine against COVID-19. Here’s how it works. A vaccine contains a weakened fragment of a disease. When you're vaccinated against a specific disease, such as measles or shingles, it triggers your body's immune response to produce antibodies that naturally fight that particular disease.
Without being vaccinated, an individual who comes into contact with a person infected with the corona virus is likely to become infected and can infect another person. It starts an unbroken chain of passing the virus from person to person to person to person, and so on.
Getting vaccinated breaks that chain of transmission. Like before, an unvaccinated individual who comes into contact with a person infected with the corona virus is likely to become infected. But if that individual has been inoculated, she or he will neither catch the virus nor pass it to anyone else.
Fewer people will be infected past that point, which breaks the chain of transmission. In fact, when more people are inoculated fewer people get sick. That’s herd immunity.
Over 400 vaccines and treatments are being tested by drug companies, universities, and medical centers to produce an effective and safe vaccine. It is likely that the United States will have at least one such vaccine by 2021. Once the vaccine is fully tested and available, herd immunity will be an important part of overcoming COVID-19.
[Information for this article was collect online from The Daily Pennsylvanian, WEBMD HEALTH NEWS, and United Press International.]
  • Comcast extends free high-speed web services to 12/2020

    • Comcast will continue to offer 60 days of free internet service for new low-income customers who sign up for Comcast’s low-income broadband program, called Internet Essentials. This offer extends through the end of the year. After that period, the service costs $9.95 a month. To learn if you qualify, go to https://apply.internetessentials.com or call 1 (855) 846-8376. If you call, be prepared to wait on hold for a long time.

  • Philly Families Read Together is a free SOWN literacy program for grandparents who are deeply involved in the lives of their young grandchildren. To learn more, contact Jessica Begley at jbegley@sown.org or call 215-487-3000 ext. 24.

Issue 2

We’re pleased to send you Issue #2 of SOWN Together, a newsletter with current and correct information about the coronavirus and COVID-19. Enjoy and stay well. This issue includes resources we can all use and the story of how one doctor is delivering services during the pandemic. Your voice counts. Be sure your vote is counted. You must be registered to vote. Questions about registration, mail-in ballots, and voting deadlines can be answered online www.votespa.com. If you prefer, you can call for: Election-related information: Mr. Garrett Dietz Supervisor of Elections (215) 686-3469 Voter Registration information: Mr. Greg Irving Acting Voter Registration Administrator (215) 686-1590 Free Library of Philadelphia Homebound Services Home delivery of library materials is a free service for times you are unable to leave your home. Applications for a homebound library card are by telephone. Benefits of a homebound card:

  • a loan period of up to six weeks
  • no fee on overdue materials
  • books can be requested by title
  • assistance in selecting books by category
Call 215-686-5411 You’ll get a recording of options. Choose the one for Homebound. Email homebound@freelibrary.org A Doctor Decides to do Something Dr. Ala Stanford may have thought of the old saying, “When white folks catch a cold, black folks get pneumonia,” when she saw that Black and brown residents in Philadelphia were getting sick with COVID19 in greater numbers than white residents. The question was not “How can that be?” The question for Dr Stanford was, “What’s being done about it?” Nowadays, she is no longer asking. Dr. Stanford is doing. In mid-April, she launched the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium (BDCC), an independent mobile testing unit. Dr. Stanford rented a van, gathered supplies, asked for volunteers, and began traveling to parts of the city where more people were sick, but fewer services were available. The pandemic has not slowed down and neither has Dr. Stanford. By late July, BDCC had tested 7,000 people. To see the BDCC schedule for free testing, go to https://blackdoctorsconsortium.com. Economic Impact Payment The IRS has announced that eligible people with dependent children have until the end of September to register. To ask questions & get answers, email info@justiceinaging.org or call the IRS at 800-917-9835. Herd Immunity Update We wondered if we were a herd and how many of us must be vaccinated to create herd immunity. Having 60- 70% of a population vaccinated would create immunity and slow the spread of a virus. We also learned we’re not a herd, we’re a flock. The 2020 Census The results of the census shape how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are sent to communities for school lunches, hospitals, roads, fire departments, and more. To complete the questionnaire by phone, call 844-330-2020 or go to https://2020census.gov.

Issue 3

By November 3, this country will be in the throes of electing its next president. Join the millions of citizens who have the right to vote. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t vote or that your vote doesn’t count. You can and it does. Cleaning from A to Z or how to stay safe in your home in spite of the pandemic There’s a right way and a wrong way to wear a mask. Be sure to cover your mouth & nose. The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is by washing your hands and practicing physical (social) distancing . . .The desire to clean and disinfect to prevent and protect everyone from COVID-19 is normal. But how much is too much? Are there areas in your home you’re neglecting?
Here’s a list from A to Z of common household items you should clean. We don’t have space for all 26 letters at once, so we’ll in-clude 2-3 letters per issue.
Do you have cleaning tips to share? Let us know by telling your group facilitator or by sending it to Jill Smith, SOWN, 4100 Main Street, Suite 403, Philadelphia, PA 19127 or by emailing jsmith@ sown.org. A is for Apple
Worried about eating fresh produce? Don’t let the virus stop you from getting a daily dose of fruits and vegetables. Disinfect counter surfaces before preparing food.
Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water and dry with either a paper towel or clean cloth.
With firm fruits such as melons, avocado, and potatoes, simply scrub with a clean vegetable brush.
There’s no need to wash poultry, meat, or eggs because cooking food at recommended temperatures kills the virus. B is for Boxes
Coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours. You have a choice –

  • Disinfect your boxes with wipes or spray immediately after delivery. Do this out-side as an extra precaution.
  • “Quarantine” your boxes for 24 hours in an out-of-the-way spot before opening.
Either way, make sure you wear gloves and always wash your hands when done.
This information comes from an online article by Nadine Jolie Courtney. https://www.thehealthy.com/infectious-disease/coronavirus-cleaning-disinfect/ Please Note: Information used for this article was posted online on April 17, 2020, but information changes rapidly. Please stay tuned as we do our best to keep current with shifting guidelines. $ Economic Impact Payment $
The IRS has announced that eligible people with dependent children have until September 30 to register for an additional $500 per child. Act now! Email info@justiceinaging.org or call the IRS at 800-917-9835. Voting Deadlines
If sending applications or ballots through the mail, mail EARLY.
  • October 19 is the deadline to register to vote.
  • October 27 at 5 p.m. is the last day for your county office to receive mail-in and absentee ballot applications.
  • November 3 is election day. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you are in line by 8 p.m., you will be able to vote.

Issue 4

Information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 changes almost as rapidly as the virus spreads. This newsletter only skims the surface of what’s on the internet. We want you to be safe and secure in your knowledge of the virus and disease that affect our communities, our country, and the world. We want to prevent you from being misled by false claims or unsupported information.
We encourage you to find information on the following reliable and as-up-to-date-as-possible websites:
www.webmd.com And listen to this man: Dr. Anthony Fauci is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He relies on scientific research about the virus to guide his recommendations. Dr. Fauci doesn’t know everything, but he knows more than most other sources and tells you when he’s wrong. C is for Clothing
Can washing your clothes protect against coronavirus? Yes. The coronavirus seems to survive on fabric between 6-12 hours, but is not strong enough to survive temperatures above 80.6 degrees F. Regular laundering in a home washing machine in the hottest water possible with
regular detergent is enough to remove the virus. Dry on the highest heat that’s safe for your clothes.
D is for Doorknobs
Every time you or the people you live with open a door, you could be contaminating it. Doorknobs are a “high touch surface” that should be disinfected every day. Use a coronavirus cleaning product to wipe or spray down knobs, and then let dry.There are too many products to list here. When looking for the right one, read the label to learn which viruses it eliminates. E is for Electronics It’s a good idea to disinfect home electronics. Put a wipeable cover on keyboards, remote controls, tablets, and touch screens for easier cleaning. Remember to follow manufacturer instructions. If you use an alcohol-based wipe or spray, allow it to air dry thoroughly. Information for this article was found at: www.thehealthy.com/infectious-disease/washing-clothes-coronavirus/ https://www.healthline.com/ Resources:

  • Philadelphia is expected to open 15 satellite elections offices where voters can request, receive, fill out, and submit a mail ballot in one stop. Locations will be made public soon.
  • Health Literacy is how you obtain, interpret, and act on health information (see above). Another path to health literacy is to take someone with you to medical appointments. They act as your 2nd set of ears and eyes to record and remember information that may be difficult to take in if you feel anxious.
    • It is your right to:
      • ask friends whom they go to and trust
      • ask for written material related to your visit
      • ask the provider to repeat something you did not fully hear or understand
      • ask questions

Issue 5

How to wash your hands—have you been doing it correctly? “I’ve been washing my hands all my life. What am I doing wrong?” You might be surprised. There are at least 8 steps to washing your hands thoroughly to slow the spread of any virus. Wet hands; soap up; scrub between your fingers front & back; wring your thumbs; scrape your knuckles; use your nails to scrub your hands front & back; wash your wrists; dry with clean cloth; don’t touch anything until your hands are dry. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Only use sanitizer when soap/water are not available. Call for Recipes Readers have asked for simple recipes that are nourishing and comforting. Do you have a recipe that uses as few as 4 and no more than 10 ingredients? Send your recipe with clear directions, easy to get ingredients, and your story of why this is a favorite dish. Email jsmith@sown.org or mail to SOWN 4100 Main Street, Suite 403, Philadelphia, PA 19127, ATTN: Jill Smith. F is for Footwear Early research found coronavirus on the soles of shoes of hospital workers. You might not work in a medical setting, but take off your shoes the moment you enter the house. They’re crawling with viruses and bacteria from everywhere else. Keep them by the door or in a designated area and wear a comfy pair of shoes or slippers in the house (see example). Ask visitors to do the same. G is for Grocery Bags Before COVID-19, you may have used fabric bags to grocery shop. There is no evidence that they help spread coronavirus, but some grocery stores have banned reusable bags. There is no evidence that grocery items, such as pasta boxes, bread loaves, and frozen veggie bags need to be disinfected. Facts support washing your hands before handling any bags or food. Once you’re done putting away the groceries, wipe down countertops with disinfectant and wash your hands again. Don’t touch your face until your hands are clean. Resources:

  • Satellite Election Offices in Philadelphia are open to provide you with one-stop services to register and vote. Hours of operation: Monday through Thursday - 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - 9:30 a.m. to 4:30

Issue 6

Help for you and how you can help others YOU ARE NOT ALONE Join Philly Families Connect on weekly telephone groups.

  • Connect with other grandparents.
  • Share knowledge and resources.
  • Learn creative parenting ideas.
  • Access to individual counselling.
  • All services are free.
For more information, call Arlene Segal, MS 215-487-3000 ext.11 ONLINE READING SUPPORT FOR GRADES K-3 If you know how to use the internet, consider volunteering for Philly Reading Coaches (PRC) in a virtual format. Each child receives 25 books at her/his home and gets support online from trained volunteers. Volunteers and students work in a secure online setting. You’ve got time; you’ll get training; children are waiting. Email PRC@phila.gov or call 215-686-0317 DON’T FACE THE PANDEMIC BY YOURSELF Join other women for an 8-week telephone group. All you need is a phone and 1 hour a week. For more information Patty Davis, LCSW 215-487-3000 ext. 25 or Debby Davis, LCSW 215-487-3000 ext. 13 H is for Hands As you know, this is a big one, and can’t be repeated often enough. Issue #5 showed you how to wash your hands. Here’s when: 1) after interacting with another person, 2) after touching a high-touch surface, or 3) as soon as you return home from an excursion outside. Hand washing remains one of the best ways to slow the spread of coronavirus or any virus. Information for this alphabet was taken from https://www.thehealthy.com/infectious-disease/ coronavirus-cleaning-disinfect/ I is for iPhone Cell phones were included in E is for Electronics. Here are specific directions for disinfecting your phone daily:
  • Use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes.
  • Remove the case and clean separately.
  • Avoid ports (where you plug in earbuds or the charger) and the speaker.
J is for Jar Covid-19 could last on glass and stainless steel somewhere from 3-7 days. Options for jars and cans:
  • Quarantine them for up to a week before use or
  • Disinfect before using with wipes or spray or
  • Wash with old reliable – soap and water
  • Questions about COVID-19? If you have questions about the COVID-19 coronavirus, you can use the 24/7 helpline to talk to a medical professional. Call 800-722-7112
  • PENNSYLVANIA COUNTS! The Supreme Court has allowed Pennsylvania election officials to count mail-in ballots received up to three days after Election Day. Don’t wait! Vote now! Ballots must be postmarked by November 3rd.

Issue 7

Vulnerable to More Than the Virus SCAM: to obtain money or personal information by dishonest means. Older adults are considered easy targets for scammers who take advantage of our fears. Despite everything we’ve learned about the coronavirus, there are many things we do not know. Scammers claim to have knowledge and cures for COVID-19. Use your instincts.

  • If a person, group, or internet page seems fake, it probably is.
  • If an offer seems too good to be true, it’s a scam.
Action Steps to Protect Yourself Hang up on robocalls. Scammers pitch fake coronavirus treatments to get your money and personal information. Ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers sell fake products claiming to treat or prevent the coronavirus. Don’t respond to requests for money from the government. Scammers falsely claim they can get you the money now. They cannot. Fact-check information. Check trusted sources such as federal, state, and local government websites. Do not share what is not true. Never send a donation in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money. This information comes from a trusted source: https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice The cleaning-by-the-alphabet feature is out and current trusted sources are in We warned you. Information about COVID-19 changes so quickly that it’s difficult to keep up with causes, treatments, and vaccine developments. It finally happened. The April 2020 information used for cleaning-by-thealphabet is out-of-date. Trusted sources agree that the primary way people are infected is through person-to-person droplet transmission via sneezing or coughing or standing near an infected person, not via contact transmission from surfaces. Continue to wash and disinfect as you wish, but the best protection against coronavirus is simply to wear a mask, maintain social distance, and wash your hands. No more alphabet, but we promise to keep you informed. There’s still so much to tell you. Sources for additional clear, direct information are online at ww.cdc.gov or by phone at 800-722-7112. Call for Recipes We’re waiting for your recipes for nourishing and comforting food.
Send recipes to:
Attn: Jill Smith
4100 Main St. #403
Philadelphia, PA 19127
Resources: Join Philly Families Connect on weekly telephone groups.
  • Connect with other grandparents.
  • Share knowledge and resources.
  • Learn creative parenting ideas.
  • Access individual counselling.
  • All services are free.
For more information, call Arlene Segal, MS 215-487-3000 ext.11 Join other women for an 8-week telephone group. All you need is a phone and 1 hour a week. For more information, call Patty Davis, LCSW 215-487-3000 ext. 25

SOWN Together Newsletter

Supporting Older Adults and their Families in the

Greater Philadelphia Area

4100 Main Street 

Suite 403

Philadelphia, PA 19127


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