To support our communities, we offer the following immediate recommendations. We are excited to work alongside our community partners, philanthropy and those that have been working on the front lines of this health crisis – particularly those in the County’s Departments of Public Health and Department of Health Services – to ensure the health and safety of everyone, regardless of race and income. These recommendations are focused on short-term needs to get through the worst of this crisis. Long-term, far more must be done to remedy underlying disparities, including a major investment of public health resources and services in high-need regions; those recommendations are in development and will be forthcoming.
Culturally appropriate public education campaigns.
- Campaigns should be designed and executed with local, authentic community leaders that have pre-existing relationships and trust with those communities, and should be delivered through established media channels (such as La Opinion, the Sentinel, KJLH, and Univision).
- The content should be developed collaboratively, but must emphasize that both testing and treatment are free for patients, since it is completely subsidized by the state of California.
- Community-based organizations, including nonprofits, congregations, labor unions, and others, should also be leveraged to reach out to their membership directly either through phone-banking or through use of “neighborhood education teams” that include organizers and gang intervention workers who have credibility and familiarity with the neighborhoods and residents.
Funding and equipment for local community clinics and other parts of the local infrastructure that have trust and relationships in the neighborhoods.
- Community clinics in the hardest-hit communities must immediately receive additional resources for testing and personal protective equipment for their workers.
- All health providers in these neighborhoods should also partner with community-based groups to help get the word out to their constituencies about the availability of increased testing and services.
- There must also be coordination with law enforcement to ensure that unnecessarily-high police presence does not interfere or discourage residents from accessing services.
- For those who do not have reliable access to telephone services, additional testing options beyond the 211 appointment system must be made available.
- All individuals who live and work in county youth and adult detention facilities must be tested to ensure their safety, and the safety of the households and communities to which they return. Youth and adult detention facility staff should be screened daily through questionnaires and temperature checks.
- If a person tests positive but does not have a housing situation allowing them to safely quarantine, they should be provided free, voluntary options for medical shelter.
An increase in personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitation supplies, and food and meals, especially for seniors, in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Residents must be protected at work, in their homes, and when they are out and about for essential shopping and errands.
- This should be happen concurrently with a surge in PPE and cleaning supplies at work sites with a high concentration of low-income workers of color, particularly in the care and service sectors, regardless of where such work sites are located.
- Community-based organizations in the hardest-hit communities should be leveraged as neighborhood distribution points for these critical supplies to reinforce their trust and ties to community residents AND to strengthen their standing as critical institutions needed to weather this current crisis as well as to support an equitable approach to any recovery as the virus subsides.
An equity-based response that does NOT:
- Use messaging or framing that suggests that their vulnerability is somehow the fault of these communities themselves because of lifestyle choices and cultural practices.
- Increase policing to enforce stay-at-home order. We plan to track the race-based police stop data made available by SB 1421, and public officials will be held accountable if the pandemic leads to increased criminalization of highly-impacted communities.
- Punish family-centric practices and culture. Physical distancing is taking a toll on Angelenos. It especially runs counter to Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and people of color’s family-centric cultural norms. Enforcement measures must be culturally astute not punitive. Community leaders can help develop creative ideas for how we can continue to support one another while keeping risks low.
- The COVID-19 pandemic response is the crucible of our time. It has simultaneously laid bare systemic racial and economic inequities and uplifted the capacity of community driven infrastructure to deploy to meet existential threats. We are a long way from repairing the harm caused by inequitable systems; nonetheless, we are at a critical juncture. The time to center equity in our immediate and long-term response has arrived.