Interim Report: Meeting the COVID-19 challenge – social impact and response

COVID-19 Impact Interim Report

How people in Prince Edward County are responding to challenges of COVID-19

2020 is an unprecedented year. Whether you are a kid who’s wearing mask while attending school, a business owner who’s worried about making rent or a caregiver looking after senior relatives, COVID-19 is a constant concern. This is why the County of Prince Edward engaged The County Foundation to prepare a research report on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on Prince Edward County. 

From mid-March to the end of September 2020, the Vital Signs team of coordinator Anne VanVlack and researcher Judith Zelmanovits conducted one-on-one virtual interviews with more than 30 local community service providers. Together with qualitative inputs, their ongoing research is also being informed by data from various provincial and national sources.

The COVID-19 Impact Interim Report is available here. 

Meeting the COVID-19 Challenge - The County Foundation
Read the COVID-19 Interim Report and view the presentation here. 

Several overarching themes emerged during the interviews. For instance:

Collective impact

“It takes the collective action of government, agencies, and individuals – If any piece doesn’t work, it falls apart. It’s important to operate as a community.”
Eric Serwotka, Director of Public Health Programs Hastings-Prince Edward 

This statement was especially true during the early days of COVID lockdown. In PEC, organizations and businesses leaned on each other for support and best practices. Here is how the pandemic is highlighting the importance of collaboration in the County.

Strong leadership

In a crisis, the response of leaders influences the outcomes. Federal, provincial, and municipal leaders issued reassuring, consistent messaging that kept politics aside. They addressed the public regularly in person and were accessible and open. Learn more here.

Communications challenges

Initial uncertainty was so all-encompassing that elaborate acronyms were coined such as VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity).

COVID-19 necessitated adaptation to internet-based technology. This further revealed the digital divide created by unreliable Internet in rural areas, cost of equipment and lack of technical skills. The barriers impede communications, access to online education, access to employment programs and the ability to work remotely. Read more here.

A catalyst for innovation, change and renewed awareness

“This was an opportunity to learn and improve, and to be innovative. It has been difficult, but we will be a better organization at the end. Many organizations will never return to their old models of operating.”
Susan Treverton, ED, Community Living PE 

The pandemic has altered the way we communicate, work, learn, shop, and socialize. It has forced organizations and businesses to scale up their use of technology and to rethink their approach. Resulting innovations and advancements include…

Looking to the future – what to expect in the months to come

The publication of the COVID-19 Impact Interim Report is just the beginning. Data continues to be collected. reflects on the wellbeing of our community during COVID-19.
It will be organized around the areas of focus as reported on in The County Foundation’s 2018 Vital Signs Report. 
These areas of focus include:
  • Education
  • Employment & Income
  • Environment
  • Food Insecurity
  • Housing
  • People, Arts & Culture
  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Safety
  • Transportation 

Going forward, statistics will be collected as they become available and follow-up interviews will be conducted in February 2021. A final report will be issued in March 2021 and include qualitative and quantitative data based on all of the Vital Signs indicators. 

Ultimately, this project will inform priority actions for the Municipality as well as The County Foundation. It will provide the Foundation’s Vital Signs working group members and other community organizations with information to support their decision-making and grant applications. It will also provide information to encourage community members to contribute to the wellbeing of our community. 

Want to learn more about the PEC Helping PEC COVID-19 Fund?

Visit our COVID-19 Fund page to donate, apply for a grant and learn about the people and businesses who have given a financial gift to support the people of Prince Edward County during the pandemic.