Vicksburg’s COVID-19 Literacy Program sets Cinco de Mayo health event

Published 8:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2022

Workers with Vicksburg’s COVID-19 Literacy Program are hoping a special Cinco de Mayo wellness program will help them to better reach out to members of the city’s Hispanic community.

Program director Felicia Kent said the event, which features music provided by a DJ and information on health and wellness programs and COVID-19, is Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at El Sombrero Restaurant on Cypress Centre Drive.

“This is part of the (city’s) advancing health literacy project and some of that is messaging with the Latino population,” Kent said. “May is National Mental Health Month and Cinco de Mayo is an excellent event that is celebrated throughout the U.S. with the Hispanic population. We have partnered with DJ HD and the owners of El Sombrero. We think this program is an opportunity for us to be able to connect with the Hispanic community and to be there to provide much-needed services.”

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According to the 2020 Census, an estimated 2.9 percent of Vicksburg’s population is Hispanic. In the past, Kent said, the city’s health literacy program has been able to hand out COVID-19 tests and provide vaccinations to members of the Hispanic community, but she said the program wants to do more.

“Our goal is to be able to do more outreach to be able to improve our public health messaging with the Hispanic community and also be able to get input from that community in terms of what their needs are as it relates to COVID and other health-related issues,” she said.

And while the main focus of the program is reaching out to the Hispanic community, Kent said the program will also be addressing COVID-related mental health issues.

“We want to be able to create awareness of mental health and also provide access to health care and to increase our message with the various populations we served in the city of Vicksburg,” she said.

So many people, Kent said, are still suffering from the long-term effects of COVID; some residents have lost loved ones to COVID and others have experienced depression because of the isolation forced by the virus.

“There’s anxiety — if you have a cold, whether you have COVID or not — and while numbers have dramatically decreased, people are still suffering from ‘long hold’ COVID and the mental health challenges from COVID,” she said.

And Thursday’s event gives people the opportunity to find help for those challenges.

“Cinco de Mayo is the perfect day to do such an event and the event entails music from the DJ,” Kent said. “We will be offering displays on health and wellness and COVID-19 information to participants on that day and we’re utilizing music as the therapy to help us address the effects of COVID that patients have been experiencing as relates to anxiety and depression, isolation.”

The literacy project’s mission is to support the community and provide the resources that are necessary for communities to recover, bounce back after COVID and then be able to provide access to health care, Kent said. Now, she said, is a good opportunity for people who did not have COVID or recovered from the disease to take steps to ensure they stay healthy and for those who are depressed because of the disease to reach out to get the services they need.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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