When Leslie Cannon found out in early summer that her ZIP code had the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Dallas County, she had to do something about it.
Her two children attend Louise M. Kahn Elementary, and one is medically fragile.
“This felt really personal,” she says. “Our community already has more high blood pressure and diabetes.”
So she created a flyer with the latest statistics on COVID-19 for the 75211 ZIP, tips on prevention and information about testing sites.
“I printed it on my home printer, and with a mask on, walked around to my neighborhood and passed them out,” she says. “That was the first thing I did, and then I was like, ‘What are the resources that I have that can help people?’ ”
Cannon works in community engagement for Be the Match, which connects patients who need bone-marrow or blood stem-cell transplants with donors. She knows people.
So she reached out to friends at El Centro’s nursing school and the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Clinic in South Dallas to find a way to provide more testing in her neighborhood.
The MLK clinic had tests and a mobile unit available, and 30 El Centro students volunteered their time. City Councilman Chad West’s office provided generators, tables and chairs for a pop-up testing site at Super Mercado Monterrey on Westmoreland Road.
They tested 178 people.
“The numbers from our site will be released, but they were really high, and I was shocked,” she says. “This community has to have more testing. And if we’re going to be sending our kids back to school, it’s imperative that we all get tested so that we can know our status.”
More recently, she arranged testing for teachers and staff at Arturo Salazar Elementary.
West connected Cannon with the Better Block and Methodist Dallas Medical Center, who were already working to distribute six outdoor hand-sanitizing stations to be placed at grocery stores and shopping centers in that neighborhood.
“It’s my responsibility to be that advocate because I have the resources to do it,” she says.