Orange County Health Care Agency - COVID-19 Latino Health Equity Initiative

Latino Health Equity Initiative

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Orange County Health Care Agency

COVID-19 Latino Health Equity Initiative

 

During today’s press conference, Vice Chairman Andrew Do (1st District) and Supervisor Doug Chaffee (2nd District) announced the launch of the Latino Health Equity Initiative. Guest speakers included Dr. Clayton Chau, Orange County Health Care Agency’s Director and current Health Officer, and Dr. America Bracho, Executive Director for Latino Health Access.

 

Below are Vice Chairman Andrew Do’s talking points from the press conference, which was live streamed on the County of Orange’s Facebook: facebook.com/ocgov.

 

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Before evidence became clear about an increased level of COVID-19 infection in the Latino community, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved funding for UCI to interpret data and case history to identify the hotspots throughout Orange County. From that study, we found that 8 out of the top 10 zip codes, in terms of COVID-19 infection rates, are in the cities of Anaheim and Santa Ana. This initiative is a direct product of that study.

 

During today’s press conference we talked about the county’s actions with our community partners, such as Latino Health Access and others, to address the spread of COVID-19 in the cities of Santa Ana and Anaheim, as well as the Latino Community in other parts of the county.  What we learn about and apply here will be the model that we will use in other at-risk communities, now and in the future, as well.

 

During today’s press conference we also wanted to take the opportunity to remind all of our residents what we all need to do this upcoming holiday weekend to reduce the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in our county.

 

Orange County has been better off than most other large California counties to date, but that does not mean we are always going to be in that position. Just yesterday, June 29, Governor Newsom added us to the state’s monitoring list, and our case count continues to grow.

 

As the spread of this virus has become better-studied, we are seeing disparate impacts that closely align with income, since many lower-income residents are also essential workers who have to violate social distancing as part of their work. The concentration of COVID-19 cases is also the result of shared, overcrowded, and multi-generational housing, particularly in North and Central Orange County and largely in the Latino communities. In Northern California, particularly in the Bay Area, we see this same pattern in the Asian-American Community.

 

The County of Orange, Latino Health Access, and UCI are working together to make sure we are directing our resources and attention to the most critically at-risk communities within Orange County. We are proud to be standing hand in hand with our partners at Latino Health Access leading the way in the community with the Latino Health Equity Initiative.

 

I want to personally thank Dr. Clayton Chau, Orange County Health Care Agency’s Director and current Health Officer, for his leadership in spearheading the Latino Health Equity Initiative and Dr. America Bracho for bringing this issue to the county’s and other stakeholders’ attention. UCI, as Orange County’s premier academic institution, is also an invaluable resource for our county as we tackle the challenges that COVID-19 has posed.

 

The COVID-19 Latino Health Equity Initiative is based on:

 

    • Education:
      • The goal of this Initiative is to inform our residents about the increasing risk of COVID-19, especially since our county’s numbers have increased dramatically in the past couple of weeks. We want people to know that there are things they can do and resources the county provides that will help keep their families safe.
      • In May, I directed the county to execute language assistance media contracts directly related to COVID-19 and education. The county executed Spanish media contracts today, June 30.
      • Undocumented individuals should not be fearful to go to any testing sites, as no immigration status information will be shared with any other third party.

 

    • Outreach:
      • Our goal is to be very strategic in reaching out to specifically targeted neighborhoods through effective and grassroot outreach.
      • Our community partners, like Latino Health Access, will help us to provide a more culturally sensitive and resonant response to ensure our public health efforts effectively enter these disadvantaged communities.
      • The county is also launching a program, where we will create mobile COVID-19 response teams specifically for schools. These response teams will work with school districts to encourage proper hygiene and provide testing to avoid schools from becoming the next major source of transmission as they reopen this fall.

 

    • Increase Access:
      • We encourage all residents to take advantage of greater accessibility to testing and support services now from the County of Orange, as well as other health providers. We have put together information that will answer as much as we can anticipation all questions about who should be tested, do they have to wait until they are symptomatic, should essential workers be tested more often, who will pay for such tests, if someone suspects they may be symptomatic how do they protect their loved ones if they live together in tighter quarters, etc.