As the COVID-19 health crisis is poised to enter year two, we continue to note the protective power of vibrant, connected communities with access to supportive resources and consistent investment. While the ability to reduce exposure to COVID-19 had direct impacts on case and death rates, not all communities had the same opportunities to stay at home. We believe that elevating the impact of structural racism on health outcomes is a critical component of advancing racial justice and health equity for the future. Together, we can ensure our experiences throughout the pandemic serve to remind us of our connectedness, and the importance of building partnerships for healthy places.
Our Vaccine Equity Video Series elevates promising and replicable practices for promoting equitable vaccine distribution. The series works to showcase community-informed and equity-centered programs that specifically aim to reach disproportionately impacted low-income and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Californians.
Our video series strategies and approaches have been highlighted as part of the American Medical Association’s Health Equity Initiatives and the Public Health Institute’s Vaccine Equity Strategy Series.
In an effort to elevate critical equity concerns emerging as a result of COVID-19, the Alliance launched a new resource series called “The COVID-19 Equity Snapshot,” a curated, consistent resource designed to assist our partners in advancing equity and elevating the power of public health in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The equity snapshots are rapidly evolving resources, designed to support our partners in elevating and addressing critical equity concerns emerging as a result of COVID-19 in real-time.
The COVID-19 crisis exposed inequities that existed long before the pandemic began. Alarming racial and economic disparity data of COVID-19 infection and death rates bring the need for equity tothe forefront of many jurisdiction’s emergency response efforts. As shifting case numbers impact the State’s plans for reopening, there is an urgent need to pay particular attention to the communities of color and essential workers that disproportionately face the highest risk of infection and death. The pandemic has elevated the critical need for jurisdictions to embed equity explicitly and intentionally throughout their emergency response and recovery processes.
Together, the Public Health Alliance and the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative partnered to release an imperative report on "Embedding Equity into Emergency Operations: Strategies for Local Health Departments during COVID-19 & Beyond." The brief outlines case studies, resources, and priority recommendations that counties and cities can take to embed equity staff and practices into their emergency operations structures and throughout the public health emergency response and recovery process.
In August 2020, the Alliance hosted a webinar with our BARHII partners, over 180 attendees, and a panel of national equity leaders sharing the successes and challenges they’ve experienced while working to center equity in emergency response efforts.
Across the public health literature, there is overwhelming evidence that social cohesion and trust play a central factor in positive public health outcomes. Structural racism undermines these health benefits, harming, disenfranchising, and creating inequitable division between communities. At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, many health departments and officials began reporting and increase of incidences of Asian and Pacific Islander communities being targeted with verbal and physical assault. Health departments request that officials strongly speak out against racism and discrimination. To stand in solidarity with this call, our equity subcommittee created a guide for public health departments to reference when addressing COVID-19 racism and discrimination.