Dr. Veronica Maria Pimentel, a Double Board-Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist, specializing in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, is a practicing clinician, researcher, educator, advocate and writer in Connecticut. She was born in Sao Nicolau, Cabo Verde and educated both in Cabo Verde and in the USA.
Cabo Verde Network reached out to Dr. Veronica Maria Pimentel, and she was asked about the dangers of Covid-19 in the Cabo Verdean communities and surrounding areas in general:
The number of people diagnosed and hospitalized with the coronavirus in the northeast states is decreasing. Research has shown that social distancing is working and has saved thousands of lives. Still, we must be vigilant and continue to protect ourselves from this potentially deadly virus. The best way to protect ourselves and our families from COVID-19 is to stay away from those who have the virus. The problem is that not everyone shows symptoms of COVID-19 infection and yet, they can still be contagious and give it to someone else. Thus, continue to practice social distancing. Stay at home as much as possible and avoid large gathering. If you cannot stay home, please wear a face mask properly. Make sure it covers your nose and mouth.
The use of face masks have become a hot political issue when it is a good public health measure that protects all of us. Contrary to much false information out there, face masks are safe to use. They filter air with oxygen in and air with carbon dioxide out. At the same time, they keep droplets with possible viruses from spreading between people. I have been wearing masks for long hours at a time since medical school, especially in the operating room and have never gotten sick from wearing one.
Many people who become infected with COVID have very mild symptoms and do not need to go to a hospital. However, if you are having trouble breathing, please seek medical care immediately. People with fever and cough should also go to the hospital.
COVID infection and the consequences of this infection are affecting Black and Brown people disproportionately. We are quickly learning that this disparity in health and outcome has to do with systemic racism that has created a system in which Black people face many barriers to accessing high-quality health care that could keep us healthy and safe.
Dr. Pimentel was asked, “What is your advice to us in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement but also to protect ourselves from COVID-19 at the same time?”
We have been doing a lot of research in public health and medicine to understand how racism is negatively impacting the care of our patients. Racism is a major public health problem. Doctors across the United States, including myself, have joined in the protests and are speaking out against police brutality and killings of Black people. These protests and open conversations about the impact of racism and need for social justice have already led to some positive changes.
You can support this movement for social justice in many ways besides going outside to protest. If you choose to go to a protest, please wear a mask.
- Donate to organizations committed to justice and equity, such us Black Lives Matter and the NAACP.
- Support Black-owned, including Cape Verdean-owned businesses.
- Volunteer your time and energy, for example at a soup kitchen, translating documents about the protests or health disparity to other languages, and mentoring young Black and Brown people.
- Educate yourself about the history of racism and racial injustice in America.
- Read a book, such us How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi and Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in The Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum.
- Watch a movie such us 13th by Director Ava DuVernay and I Am Not Your Negro.
- Listen to postcasts such as 1619 from the New York Times and Throughline from NPR.
We need to keep the conversation and pressure going for our sake and the sake of our family and community.
If you have questions about the coronavirus, women’s health, sexuality, or social activism that you would like Dr. Pimentel to answer, email your question to VeroMD.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Veronica Pimentel’s website is VeroMD.net and her Twitter handle is @DrVeroPimentel.