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Delaware Health Officials Asking Teens Who Went To Senior Week In Rehoboth Beach, Dewey To Get COVID-19 Test – CBS Baltimore

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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (WJZ) –– Delaware Health officials are asking teens who went to Senior Week in Rehoboth or Dewey beaches, or who live there, to get a coronavirus test after over 100 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the area.

The Delaware Division of Public Health reported that after conducting coronavirus tests in the area, 100 people in Rehoboth and over a dozen people in Dewey tested positive for the virus.

According to Delaware health officials, at least three out of a dozen teens who were staying together in a rental unit in Dewey Beach tested positive for coronavirus. The teens attended several crowded gatherings in Rehoboth, potentially exposing at least 100 people to the virus.

The city later wrote on Facebook that three lifeguards in Rehoboth Beach also tested positive for COVID-19.

“We believe at this time there was very little contact with the public,” Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks said in the post.

The lifeguards will be tested in the next 24 hours and won’t return to work until they’re medically cleared to do so.

 

DPH is making contact with people who may have been exposed to the virus.

“It is important for teens participating in senior week activities to consider themselves at-risk, and get tested for, COVID-19. The risk of COVID-19 spread among other young people, of different households, living in group settings without social distancing or wearing face coverings is real, and we will have no way of tracing all of the individuals they may have exposed because they likely don’t know everyone’s names,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Just because we are reopening, does not mean the virus is gone. It does not mean the risk is gone. It does not mean things are back to normal.”

Families whose children participated in senior week activities at the beach, and are planning graduation parties, should consider rescheduling them for 14 days after they left. If they hold them, they should consider their children at-risk for the virus and limit the teens’ exposure to vulnerable family and friends such as grandparents or family members with chronic health conditions.

“We are extremely concerned by yet another cluster of COVID-19 cases in the beach area and the potential for spread to others both at work and in social gatherings,” said Rattay. “We know that some of the positive persons have been at parties recently, potentially transmitting the virus to others who may still be here or may have returned to their homes in other counties or states.”

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

“We are also concerned by our own staff observations in the beach area and pictures seen on social media of people not wearing face coverings or social distancing while they are out and about, including at bars and restaurants,” Rattay continued. “Make no mistake, continuing this behavior is a recipe for disaster. It is a sure way for us to end up with widespread infection that ultimately may not be contained to the beach area.”

Testing is highly encouraged for:

  • those living in the beach area with people who are not part of your family;
  • those attending parties, or restaurants/bars in the last two weeks where you were not wearing a face covering or social distancing;
  • people working in the restaurant, hotel or retail industry who have frequent contact with other people.

If you’re down at the beach, here’s where you can get tested:

  • A community-based testing event has been scheduled for Monday June 29, 2020, at the Starboard restaurant in Dewey beach from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Pre-registration for this site is full, though a limited number of walk up spots are available.
  • A second community testing event is scheduled for Thursday, July 2, 2020, at the Epworth United Methodist Church, 19285 Holland Glade Road, Rehoboth Beach from 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.
  • Beebe Healthcare is also partnering with the Delaware Restaurant Association (DRA) to offer testing on Monday and Tuesday to staff of any food establishment in or near the beach area. Testing is scheduled for Monday, June 29, 2020, from noon to 2 p.m. at Big Fish Grill, 20298 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach. Testing will also be held on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Touch of Italy in Rehoboth Beach at 19724 Coastal Hwy. No pre-registration is required. Anyone with questions can call 302-738-2545.
  • Additional community testing sites in the beach area are likely to be scheduled in the next week or so. Registration is open at http://delaware.curativeinc.com.

Otherwise you can get tested at one of the free testing locations in Maryland.

Click here for more information on these  COVID-19 cases in Delaware.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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Pakistan’s health minister tests positive for COVID-19

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FILE PHOTO: Pakistan’s Health Minister, Zafar Mirza (R), interacts with the mother of a Pakistani student, who is stuck in the locked down Hubei province at the center of China’s coronavirus outbreak, as people demand evacuation of their children during a meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Saiyna Bashir

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE (Reuters) – Pakistan’s health minister on Monday said he had tested positive for COVID-19, the latest senior figure to contract the novel coronavirus in a country where rising cases are putting pressure on the health system.

“I have tested positive for COVID-19. Under (medical) advice I have isolated myself at home & taking all precautions. I have mild symptoms. Please keep me in your kind prayers,” State Minister of Health Zafar Mirza said on Twitter.

Pakistan has so far confirmed more than 229,831 cases with 4,762 deaths, according to government figures. The country has continued to confirm around 4,000 new cases per day, despite daily testing numbers falling.

A number of high level officials have tested positive in Pakistan, including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who announced he had the virus on Friday, just days after meeting with U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.

The Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed and the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Asad Qaiser have also contracted the virus.

On Monday, 48 doctors resigned in the eastern city of Lahore, one of the hardest hit areas by the virus. Salman Haseeb, president of the Young Doctors Association for Punjab, said the resignations were due to low morale in the stretched health system due to poor working conditions.

“See the lack of seriousness of the government during the deadly pandemic that it is accepting resignations instead of addressing the doctors’ problems at this critical time when more doctors are much needed in Pakistan,” he said.

The spokesman for the Punjab Health Department, Syed Hammad Raza, told Reuters that the resignations were not related to COVID-19 and were due to personal reasons, and that doctors had enough protective equipment and received extra bonuses for working during the pandemic.

Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield and Mubasher Bukhari; Editing by Peter Graff

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Black Americans on mental health, trauma, and resilience

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I’m feeling it, my friends and family are feeling it: the weight of this moment is immeasurable. Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This has been compounded by the tragic deaths of Black men and women — lives cut short at the hands of police and vigilantes. 

Ahmaud Arbery shot while jogging. Breonna Taylor killed in her home. George Floyd suffocated as the world watched. Rayshard Brooks asleep in a Wendy’s parking lot. Robert Fuller found hung from a tree in Palmdale, Calif. We lament the Black lives lost, past and present.

Repeated trauma and stress have real effects on health, both physical and mental. Though the dialogue surrounding mental health is changing, it’s often considered a taboo subject in the Black community. Navigating the intersections of Black identity has always been layered and complex. With these ideas in mind, I photographed family, friends, and others in my community of Southern California and spoke with them about how being Black in the U.S. affects them, especially right now. Here are their stories and portraits.

We’ve chosen to use first names only to respect participants’ privacy. Interviews have been condensed and edited. 

Christine, 28 (top)

I can see someone I know in all of those names. When I hear Sandra Bland, I think of myself. When I hear Tony McDade, I think of one of my aunt’s best friends, who’s no longer here. When I think of George Floyd, I think of my uncle. When I think of Trayvon Martin, I think of any young person that I know, but also that that could one day be my child. It seems like Black people continue to have to be the sacrificial lambs to make people get it. 

I’m not sleeping well. I was having nightmares. But I still was like, OK, I’m going to show up. I’m going to do my best. But I wasn’t at my best. And after a while I was just like, I’m not going to feel guilty about that.

Sometimes I wonder, like, why did God give us such a burden? But I still think being Black is a gift. I think that being Black is what makes us find our light in this world and lets us be a light to people, because we are a beautiful people. I think about what we’re capable of. And so I’m like, you know what? I’m still very proud to be Black. It comes with way more troubles than if I were born different. But I wouldn’t trade it.

David, 26

I’ve seen more than a few Black bodies. I will no longer consume the types of videos that are now all over social media. It’s not for me to take that in.

When it was just Covid that we were dealing with, I was like, man, I can’t wait to get back to the office. And I miss that grind. I feel like it’s harder to focus when I’m home. But with this — everybody knows what this is. I’m glad I’m not in the office right now.

It’s still hard to show up at work, because I’m a Black man at work. It’s almost impossible to be your authentic self as a Black man in this space. I’m glad that I don’t have to be at work when I randomly get sad. It’s hard to go all in for the types of corporate law that you do when people who look like me are getting gunned down or asphyxiated in the street.

Alexa, 29

It’s not just like one emotion at a time, it’s all emotions at once — and not really being able to reconcile them because you’re anticipating another death coming.

It’s almost like we have to sacrifice ourselves now in order to bring justice. We’re going out in large numbers, we’re going out in groups. We’re in a unique position that mostly everyone is working from home or while everyone’s at home. So why not go out there, take our chances, take our precautions, and just like do the damn thing.

It makes me proud of Black people because we’re literally going through shit all the time. And despite a pandemic going on, we still want to fight for justice. So it just makes me proud knowing that Black people are fighting for each other. 

When I do try to move forward in joy and do something that makes me happy, in the back of my mind I’m thinking about what’s happening. I have to tune it out, to be honest. And then the next day, if I have tuned it out, it is going to come back and still affect me. My mental health is not — it can’t be where I want it to be because Black folks are dying.

I want to stay in the movement, I want to fight. But like, I also need a day off and like, recognizing that that’s OK, too.

Victoria, 67 (left)

I have a husband, three sons, and seven grandsons. And so I’m praying. 

I never thought in my life I would be at a time like this. We’re the products of the civil rights movement. We’re the first generation. 

It was always the police pull you over — don’t talk, just get the ticket. Just come on home. We’ll deal with it. Our oldest son lives in Texas. And he was saying that — his son is 12. And I’m thinking, will it ever stop? It’s very, very heavy on my heart. Sometimes I just tear up for no reason.

What’s affecting me most is not being able to kiss and to hug — especially our grandchildren. I miss them so badly. That’s wearing on me. And then on top of that, then I’ve got to turn on the TV and I got to see somebody putting their knee on a person’s neck and looking “so like?” and “so what?” The expression on his face said it all for me. 

Khalif, 69 (right)

White folk are learning what we have been, quote-unquote complaining about. 

We as Black folks did not know what really happened to us. White folks didn’t know because they were not taught. The changes that were supposed to happen within the culture and society, education, and the repair of Black folks that was supposed to occur since 1865, never occurred. That has never been addressed. They’ve been lied to as white folk. We’ve been lied to. My fantasy is that they’re agitated because “why do we want so much?” And so there’s a dynamic there that grows out of ignorance.

I’m trying to stay balanced. We have to stay focused. We can’t afford to become ill. You’ve got the police brutality, you’ve got coronavirus. We can’t afford to become so emotionally out in space that we lose our focus and effectiveness. This, too, shall pass. But this is not the first time that these viruses have come.

LaDonya, 62

I’m sickened. I’m saddened, I’m stressed. My anxiety has risen. I am disturbed. 

I see people are very unmoved, as if they’ve just given up hope. My energies are going towards something more positive in trying to get laws and policy changed. The rage for whites are woven into our political system against African Americans. And so if we don’t change policy and law, they’ll continue to weave these laws and the inequities will continue if we don’t stand up and do something.

As an African American parent, I had a whole lot of fight to do in raising my children in the suburbs. My husband and I, we were always present. In the board rooms, PTA, schools site council — from kindergarten all the way through. They were treated differently and they may not have recognized it, but for me as a parent, I saw it. They had to face racism very early. That was hurting for me. My youngest daughter was called a nigger in elementary school. Somebody spit on her. And then another child tried to cut her hair. We advocated for them and they made it through OK, but very stressful as parents living in the suburbs.

I’m hypersensitive right now. I’m unapologetic about it. Because it just weighs on your psyche. The world watched George Floyd call for his mom. And the white officer just laid his knee on his neck and looked around like he was nothing. 

Right now it costs more money to fund a prisoner than it takes to send our children to school. Let’s flip that because that’s problematic. And I’m pissed off.

Amoni, 27

On top of having to navigate a pandemic and trying to stay healthy, Black people are having to fight for the right to live free of state violence. I’m just really so exhausted, so fed up, and out of the capacity to be nice. 

I come from a tiny town called Lumberton, North Carolina. And they had several protests. Lumberton is one of those spaces that often gets forgotten because it’s in one of places where it’s like racism will always be there. I myself often thought the same way, that maybe this is just how it is and progress happens elsewhere. 

There’s something particular about this moment of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we’ve already lost so much. And we were already set up to lose much more. And no one was going to care about what we had lost. Having millions of Black folks in America who are without employment or having to navigate having no money in a pandemic when they should be having the resources they need to stay safe and healthy, I think this put pressure on what we’re seeing now. It’s making this moment feel urgent for a lot more people.

Robert, 25

Some people can go out and protest. I feel like me being in this space, being the only Black man, the only Black person period in my [graduate school] program. My way of activism is making sure my voice is heard and that I can represent in this white person, male dominated space. It takes a mental toll being the only Black one.

I came back from San Diego. It’s just so white. I was running a couple times a week when Ahmaud [Arbery] got killed and I was like, see, I can’t even do that. I literally can’t do that here with all these white people.

I’m still a young Black man. I’m sure that people that move in and see me and my friends coming to this house, they’re questioning it. Is it only a matter of time where, let’s say I just go on a casual walk here and somebody doesn’t recognize me — are they calling the police right away on me? Are they taking matters into their own hands? So I just try to stay out the way, especially right now. 

I do think that we’re in a better position now then we were a few years ago. And I feel like the momentum is building, but it is mentally taxing, kind of seeing all this stuff.

Alante, 29

Sometimes I have to get off of social media and stop watching the news because it can be overwhelming. If you’re constantly watching police harm somebody, it feels like they’re attacking a family member and you can’t do anything about it. And then, what makes it even more stressful, is when you realize that you have to fight your hardest and turn the world upside down just to get justice.

I realize that a lot of Black people have PTSD from being racially profiled, and with brutality. We fight for laws to be changed or made, but ultimately, at the end of the day, if it’s enforced by a racist structure, there will ultimately not be any change. 

Debra, 69

The [George Floyd] video is just heartbreaking. To see someone struggle like that, to see that there’s no value that was put on his life at all. Being a banker, I thought — based on the story, who said the bill was counterfeit? Where is the bill? Who? Who knows? And he could have picked that up anywhere. I worked for a bank. Innocent people get a hold of counterfeit money all the time. So, a $20 counterfeit bill and a man’s life? 

There is great concern on my part that the Black community has been just set upon with this virus in a way that none of the other races are experiencing. It’s frightening. It’s really caused my family to take extra, extra precautions and care because our numbers are high compared to others. I’ll continue to move forward, I’ll continue to engage. I’m constantly thinking of ways that I can be helpful, that I can support the things that I feel are so important and stay safe at the same time. We’ve gotta find alternative ways of making things work and being present when it’s important.

Jeffrey, 67

As a child of the ’60s, I’m tired. 

It’s really sad to think that in 2020 we still have these issues and people have this superiority thinking. I just reminisce, thinking about some of the brutality that I saw as a kid growing up, and just wondered why. Even Martin Luther King said at one point he was frustrated because he thought that what he was showing white America, and telling white America, that people would just join in. 

This didn’t just happen. 

[When I was a kid] our parents bought us bicycles. A police officer pulled up on the side and let his window down. “What are you guys doing with those bicycles?” We’re kind of confused. We were young, you know, 9, 10, 11 years old. “Where’d you get those bicycles from?” I think I remember saying we got them for Christmas. He said, “How can you afford those bicycles?” I don’t even know if I ever told anybody. But all my life I’ve been thinking about — two kids on a bicycle after Christmas? Two new bicycles and we’re suspects? You know. And this is 2020. I’m 67 years old and we’re suspects. That bothers me. 

Jordan, 25

I just feel kind of heartbroken. To have to be mourning people I don’t really know, but it could be people I know. Just knowing that the virus itself was going to cause death, but that the neglect would compound that death and compound that pain.

I went to undergrad in St. Louis. I was a sophomore during the Ferguson uprising and tried to participate in the actions around that … that was a really formative part of my own growth and also my mental health journey. To reach such a huge national response again, not even six years later …

Thinking about the virus and how even by protesting to save our own lives — that is putting ourselves at risk — whether from the police or from the virus. It’s just really hard. Even if after this pandemic is over, there’s a vaccine, if Black people are still dying, going back to normal isn’t good enough. I think a lot of people realize that we’ve needed change since before this. And going back to a world where, like Black people are still dying disproportionately. It’s not enough.

Aminah, 10 (center)

I don’t like what the police are doing. I feel like they should treat everyone right. And the coronavirus, I feel like I just want to stay inside and I don’t want to go anywhere and I just want to check in on my family and stuff. 

Lailah, 18 (left)

I am disappointed and sad. Because, to the police, it’s like our lives don’t matter and we’re just an outsider to this country. 

Especially now that I drive a lot, sometimes I run a red light. If the light was still yellow when I was going to the intersection and I kind of think like, oh, was a cop by me, like I hesitate. And even going over the speed limit, like a couple miles, I get nervous because, I’m Black and I don’t know what’s going to happen. 

It saddens me when Aminah asks me questions about what happened. I think it was the first night of the protests in LA, she started crying and she was asking me, “Why are the cops doing this? Why are they throwing tear gas?” So we just had a conversation that night. I just felt like, as she gets older I can’t protect her anymore because I’m not always going to always be with her.

Mandi, 16 (right)

They just see us as a threat and we’re just tired of fighting for our lives. We should be protected by the police not being hurt by them. It was very sad what happened to him [George Floyd]. But I think what I’m most disappointed about, is how I wasn’t surprised that it was by a cop. It makes me feel a little scared because I am Black and they could see me as a threat, even though I’m not. I’m just a kid.

Megan, 30

Everything hit me in a way that felt extremely overwhelming. Being able to be in a place where the response to state violence is a Black response has been important for me to feel less isolated and to feel like there’s somewhere for the grief and the rage to go.

I did go to a protest. It was Black women who organized this demonstration. And I think it drew like 3,000 people. It was powerful to be there. There was a lot of people, mostly non-Black people, like by a lot. It’s weird to go to that space to feel like you want to get some relief and you want to express something, but then to feel like kind of a spectacle in the sense that everyone’s talking about Black people and there’s very few Black people there.

Before all this happened, I was like dealing with unpacking a lot of shit in my life and trying to sort through trauma and then to have both a pandemic and this moment of more attention being paid to police violence. It’s hard. It feels like there’s no sanctuary from that really intense feeling.

Shad, 26

I feel it could be anybody. I feel like it could be me, just walking down the street, somebody think you do something, you not, and then your life get taken away.

It’s just wrong place, wrong time.

If you get pulled over, you just got to be cautious. Keep as calm as possible cause you never know. Like you reach the wrong way, something might happen, you move the wrong way, something might happen. So you just gotta keep calm and just be aware that anything could happen. … I’m always, I’m always nervous.

Timnit, 28

I’ve felt very heavy, like your bones feel like they’re made out of blood. Like you don’t want to move. You suddenly are struck with grief in the middle of the day. It’s an unfathomable pain. It’s an unfathomable grief that is really hard to sit in and is really discomforting to deal with.

I hate that I have to show up to Zoom meetings and give my best and have people ask me, “How are you doing?” And you’re just like, “How the fuck do you think I’m doing?” I’m heartbroken. I’m tired. I’m exhausted and I feel completely unsafe.

I was going to therapy regularly, dealing with my own traumas and then having this added on to what I already deal with. It doesn’t feel like there’s room to heal. It doesn’t feel like there’s room to feel safe. It doesn’t feel like there’s room for me to just be myself. Black people aren’t safe anywhere, regardless of whether they’re at home or not.

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This Oregon town of 170,000 replaced some cops with medics and mental health workers. It’s worked for over 30 years

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Today, the program, called CAHOOTS, has three vans, more than double the number of staffers and the attention of a country in crisis.

CAHOOTS is already doing what police reform advocates say is necessary to fundamentally change the US criminal justice system — pass off some responsibilities to unarmed civilians.

Cities much larger and more diverse than Eugene have asked CAHOOTS staff to help them build their own version of the program. CAHOOTS wouldn’t work everywhere, at least not in the form it exists in in Eugene.

But it’s a template for what it’s like to live in a city with limited police.

It’s centered around a holistic approach

Nurse Celene Eldrich, a volunteer nurse for CAHOOTS, waits to screen guests for health concerns at the Egan Warming Center's Springfield location in March.

CAHOOTS comes from White Bird Clinic, a social services center that’s operated in Eugene since the late 1960s. It was the brainchild of some counterculture activists who’d felt the hole where a community health center should be. And in 1989, after 20 years of earning the community’s trust, CAHOOTS was created.

It stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets and cheekily refers to the relationship between the community health center that started it and the Eugene Police Department.

Most of the clients White Bird assisted — unsheltered people or those with mental health issues — didn’t respond well to police. And for the many more people they hadn’t yet helped, they wanted to make their services mobile, said David Zeiss, the program’s co-founder.

“We knew that we were good at it,” he said. “And we knew it was something of value to a lot of people … we needed to be known and used by other agencies that commonly encounter crisis situation.”

It works this way: 911 dispatchers filter calls they receive — if they’re violent or criminal, they’re sent to police. If they’re within CAHOOTS’ purview, the van-bound staff will take the call. They prep what equipment they’ll need, drive to the scene and go from there.

The program started small, with a van Zeiss called a “junker,” some passionate paraprofessionals and just enough funding to staff CAHOOTS 40 hours a week.

It always paired one medic, usually a nurse or EMT, with a crisis responder trained in behavioral health. That holistic approach is core to its model.

Per self-reported data, CAHOOTS workers responded to 24,000 calls in 2019 — about 20% of total dispatches. About 150 of those required police backup.

CAHOOTS says the program saves the city about $8.5 million in public safety costs every year, plus another $14 million in ambulance trips and ER costs.

It had to overcome mutual mistrust with police

White Bird’s counterculture roots ran deep — the clinic used to fundraise at Grateful Dead concerts in the West, where volunteer medics would treat Deadheads — so the pairing between police and the clinic wasn’t an immediately fruitful one.

There was “mutual mistrust” between them, said Zeiss, who retired in 2014.

“It’s true there was a tendency to be mistrustful of the police in our agency and our culture,” he said. “It was an obstacle we had to overcome.”

And for the most part, both groups have: Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner called theirs a “symbiotic relationship” that better serves some residents of Eugene.

“When they show up, they have better success than police officers do,” he said. “We’re wearing a uniform, a gun, a badge — it feels very demonstrative for someone in crisis.”

It seeks to overturn a disturbing statistic

And there’s a great deal of people in Eugene in crisis.

Lane County, which encompasses Eugene and neighbor city Springfield, has staggering rates of homelessness.

The county’s per-capita homeless rate is among the nation’s highest. Recent data from the county also suggests mental health crises are widespread, too — the suicide rate, at around 17 deaths per 100,000, is about 40% higher than the national average.
Police encounters with the homeless often end in citations or arrests. Of homeless people with mental health conditions, anywhere from 62.0% to 90% of them will be arrested, per one journal review of homelessness studies. They may end up in jail, not in treatment or housing, and thus begins the cycle of incarceration that doesn’t benefit either party.

Around 25% of people killed by police show signs of mental illness, according to one study

CAHOOTS was created in part because of another disturbing statistic — around 25% of people killed by police show signs of mental illness, according to a journal review of the Washington Post’s extensive officer-involved shootings database.
The Eugene Police Department has been criticized in years past for shooting and killing people with mental illnesses. Most recently, in February, the city won a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a man who was shot by police. His loved ones said he was a veteran with PTSD who’d threatened suicide. (Skinner was appointed chief in 2018, three years after the shooting.)

Most of CAHOOTS’ clients are homeless, and just under a third of them have severe mental illnesses. It’s a weight off the shoulders of police, Skinner said.

“I believe it’s time for law enforcement to quit being a catch-base for everything our community and society needs,” Skinner said. “We need to get law enforcement professionals back to doing the core mission of protecting communities and enforcing the law, and then match resources with other services like behavioral health — all those things we tend to lump on the plate of law enforcement.”

Its staffers are unarmed

There’s no such thing as a “typical” CAHOOTS shift these days, said Ben Brubaker, who worked as a CAHOOTS crisis worker before assuming the senior role of clinical co-coordinator at White Bird.

Staffers respond to substance addiction crises, psychotic episodes, homeless residents and threats of suicide. They make house calls to counsel depressed children at their parents’ request, and they’re contacted by public onlookers when someone isn’t in a position to call CAHOOTS themselves.

Unlike police, CAHOOTS responders can’t force anyone to accept their aid, and they can’t arrest anyone. They’re not armed, and their uniform usually consists of a White Bird T-shirt and jeans — the goal is that the more “civilian-like” they look, the less threatened their clients will feel.

Their approach is different, too. They’re taught in training to abandon the “pseudo-professional” affect that staffers inadvertently take on in talks with clients. And aside from an extensive background in medical care or mental health, all CAHOOTS employees are judged by their “lived experiences,” Brubaker said — people who’ve dealt with many of the situations CAHOOTS clients find themselves in are better able to empathize and serve those people, he said.

Building that rapport and trust with clients is part and parcel with their clinical work.

“That can be tricky,” Brubaker said. “We show up in a white van.”

The demand for its services continues to grow

Cahoots crisis councilor Ned White, left, and EMT Rose Fenwick wrap up a day shift with a stop in  Eugene in December 2018.

For most people they assist, though, that’s still preferable to a police cruiser.

They can call police or EMS for assistance if the case requires a “higher level of care” than CAHOOTS can provide, he said. But much of it they can do on their own. They can transport clients to hospitals, shelters or White Bird Clinic, where they’ll have access to medical and dental care and counseling.

Support continues to swell — CAHOOTS receives about $2 million, which Zeiss says is almost three times what its budget was when he retired in 2014. And CAHOOTS a few years ago expanded to serve neighboring Springfield.

But the program is still working with just three vans, which are staffed 24/7. The workload can be overwhelming, Brubaker said.

The high demand, low capacity model is holding CAHOOTS back, said Ibrahim Coulibaly, a former White Bird volunteer who serves as the president of the Lane County NAACP chapter. Expanding CAHOOTS’ services so it had its own campus, too, could improve its reach, he said.

With more funding, he said, reallocated from the police budget or another source, the program could respond to even more crises, with even more employees and, hopefully, at least one more van.

CAHOOTS could use more than another van, though, said June Fothergill, a pastor at a Springfield church who calls CAHOOTS to pick up the homeless people or people with substance use issues that stop by for free meals.

Fothergill said while CAHOOTS does its part well — providing immediate services to someone in crisis — there’s still a void when it comes to long-term solutions.

“You can call someone for the crisis, but what are they supposed to do for it — where can they take them except for jail?” she said. “That doesn’t necessarily provide much treatment.”

They’re better equipped than police to care for the people she serves, she said. But if there isn’t space in affordable housing, Eugene’s detoxing center or mental health facilities, those clients will turn into regulars.

“They’re doing what they can do,” she said. “There’s wonderful work going on, but it isn’t adequate at the moment.”

It says a partnership with police is essential

The idea of “defunding the police” crept into the mainstream just one month ago, since the death of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. But what the term means depends on who you ask.
Advocates for limiting the role of police have pointed to Eugene as an example of social service providers and law enforcement working in harmony.

But a growing group of dissenters feel there’s little room for police in the movement to fundamentally change the American criminal justice system. Services like CAHOOTS, they say, may function better and more broadly without the assistance of police.

Zeiss isn’t sure he agrees.

“Partnership with police has always been essential to our model,” he said. “A CAHOOTS-like program without a close relationship with police would be very different from anything we’ve done. I don’t have a coherent vision of a society that has no police force.”

He said the current movement has seemingly pitted service providers like CAHOOTS against police, which may stoke suspicion among police over “whether we’re really their allies or their competitors,” he said.

“In some sense, that may be true. But I think we still need to focus on being part of a system, and a system that includes police for some functions,” Zeiss said.

Skinner, the Eugene police chief, said reallocating funds from Eugene police would stifle the department, which is already money-tight, and its ability to do the work to defend CAHOOTS when situations turn violent.

“Anytime you’re thinking about what meaningful change looks like, especially that’s sustainable, it takes a significant amount of engagement from stakeholders,” he said. “While I totally understand people’s desire to do something very, very quickly, we kind of need to keep our eyes on the prize here. If we want to reform police, we have to do it methodically and strategically.”

It’s become central in the ‘defund the police’ debate

Coulibaly said community leaders are in talks over what to do about police — should their funding go to CAHOOTS, or should more funding be directed toward better educating police about deescalation techniques? They haven’t reached a consensus, he said.

“If the city doesn’t have enough money to fund CAHOOTS, probably they should think about reallocating some of the funds that go to police to support CAHOOTS,” he said.

Brubaker said the relationship with police remains strong, but CAHOOTS is evaluating the calls for change from the public, who’ve directed their support toward the program. He said staff are figuring out what shape the program will take going forward, but there’s no clear path.

“We’re not trying to be the face of a mainstream institution,” he said. “We’re just people serving people.”

Other cities are trying to develop a similar model

The idea of a separate entity in charge of alternative care is more enticing than ever as cities mull over the efficacy of their police departments.

CAHOOTS has met the moment. Brubaker said he’s consulting with cities on how to implement their own CAHOOTS-inspired program, subbing White Bird Clinic for a local organization that serves a similar role.

There are a few criteria, though, that Brubaker considers immutable: The CAHOOTS stand-in should be operated by a local non-profit separate from the government that already has an established, positive rapport with the community, and it should ideally be staffed by people who reflect the diversity of that community.

CAHOOTS consulted Olympia, Washington, on the creation of its own Crisis Response Unit, which is staffed by two social workers. Denver is piloting a program, also inspired by CAHOOTS, led by a local social justice organization.

… but there is no one-size-fits-all solution

White Bird Clinic and CAHOOTS coordinators can’t go into other communities and set up copies of CAHOOTS. What works in Eugene wouldn’t work in New York, or in Miami, or in larger cities more diverse than Eugene (less than 2% of the population is Black, according to census data).

Brubaker knows that a “fill-in-the-blank” style of reform wouldn’t work. But CAHOOTS does provide a template.

“I guess the role that I see for our agency isn’t to go in and tell other communities what they need to do and should be doing,” he said. “Our role is to assist those communities to have a conversation with each other about what they need and what that response can look like.”

It’s not an immediate fix. Zeiss said it took a lot of “patient plotting” for CAHOOTS to really have an impact.

“At this point, we’ve patiently waited out an entire generation of police officers,” he said. “There’s nobody on the Eugene police force today who can remember being a Eugene police officer without CAHOOTS. It’s been that slow of a process.”

That doesn’t mean other cities shouldn’t try.

“You have to start,” he said. “You can start immediately by creating something and expand it as confidence in it grows.”

Another city’s CAHOOTS may not be called CAHOOTS at all, though it’ll probably use another cutesy acronym. It’s not likely to satisfy advocates who want to defund the police entirely. But, if done right, it could change the lives of some of a city’s most vulnerable people.

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