Van Buren/Cass District Health Department launches weekly public health videos

CASS COUNTY — Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Cass County residents have looked forward to a weekly email in their inbox from the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department, containing information and statistics regarding case numbers, statistics and updates.

Last week, the department launched a new program to spread that information to an even wider audience.

The Van/Buren Cass District Health Department recently rolled out weekly information videos to keep the public and elected officials informed about the county’s COVID-19 status updates. The videos, which are being released on Thursdays, can be viewed on the health department’s website.

“Everyone is getting their information from the news and all of these other sources,” said Dr. Larry Wile, medical director at the health department. “The thought [behind the videos] was, ‘Well, it would be nice if we could get some information straight from our health department.’”

According to Wile, the videos came about as a request from the Cass County Board of Commissioners. Initially, Wile and other staff members at the health department hoped to schedule weekly Zoom calls with commissioners to keep them up to date on the county’s COVID-19 status and updates. However, due to conflicting schedules, the health department opted to record videos to be shared with the board. As a benefit, the recorded format allowed Wile to add information regarding Van Buren County and make the videos viewable to the public.

“The first video went well, and people appreciated the information,” Wile said. “We thought that as information is changing week to week that we would do it again. … This is a way, instead of people just looking at the [COVID-19] statistics, I can give a brief summary of the statistics and break things down into three areas: where we are at, what’s new and where we are going. This is a way to keep our county leaders informed about what we at the health department see so that we are all on the same page.”

Much of the information included in upcoming videos will focus on the COVID-19 vaccine, when it could reach Cass County and what distribution will look like. Wile said this would be an essential component of the videos, as many in the area have asked questions about the vaccine and a high number of individuals are resistant to the idea of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have to present and market this vaccine in a way that we haven’t done in the past,” he said. “Our job is to communicate the efficacy, the side effects and be as transparent as possible. … This vaccine is going to save lives, but we have our work cut out for us.”

Despite the challenges of getting information out about the vaccine and the hour-to-hour shifting information regarding the virus, Wile said he believes it is important work for the health department to continue to work to get information out to the public in all ways possible.

“I think it is important because people are making important decisions, and they need to be making those on the most up-to-date information, on scientific evidence,” he said. “The decisions they are making not only affect themselves but their loved ones and other people in the community. So, in order to protect the public, we need to give them the best information, based on science and experts, to help them make those decisions.”

To view the weekly videos, visit vbcassdhd.org.

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