Santa Clara County Leaders Submit Recommendations of the Health and Racial Equity Task Force to Local Legislators

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Members represent government, health agencies, and community-based organizations to address health disparities impacted by the COVID-19 virus

SAN JOSE, CA. - On Wednesday, August 26, 2020, Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco will present to the San Jose City Council Rules and Open Government Committee the final recommendations of the Health and Racial Equity Task Force, a group of Santa Clara County community leaders working to address disparate impacts of COVID-19 on low-income communities of color, and developed policy recommendations and implementation strategies to address and reduce racial health disparities.

The recommendations will be heard at 2 p.m during a virtual meeting and will be agendized for consideration at a meeting of the entire City Council at a future session. Since May, the task force, co-chaired by Carrasco, has met weekly, held a public community hearing with over 125 participants, and hosted presentations by numerous representatives from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Santa Clara County Public Health Department, and County and City of San Jose Emergency Operations Centers. The task force sought to better understand the current health crisis and address the disparate impacts of COVID-19 by race, particularly in hot zone neighborhoods in East San Jose and South Santa Clara County.

“The disparities have only worsened since the beginning of the shelter in place for communities of color," said Councilmember Carrasco. “For example, the Latino community is now facing infection rates double than that in the general population. We must continue to deploy the appropriate resources to meet the needs of our communities, who are not only facing the disproportionate health impacts of the virus but also the devastating economic impacts.”

The current infection rate for Latinos is 55.3%, while they represent just 25.8% of the County population. In contrast, the white population has an 11% infection rate, while representing 32% of the population.

“It has been an honor co-chairing the Health and Racial Equity Task Force with Councilmember Carrasco, and working with all its knowledgeable members,” said Assemblymember Kansen Chu. “Communities of color, especially Black and Latinx, have been harmed for far too long due to disparity in access to services. Challenges such as lack of translated materials, culturally appropriate outreach, and lack of trust result in barriers to services.”

“State and local governments need to do better to ensure that no one gets left behind, especially during emergencies such as the current pandemic and wildfires,” Chu added. “The recommendations that the Task Force has put together are sensible and necessary for closing the gaps in services, which were further exacerbated by COVID-19. I have urged the State to consider these important proposals and will ask the same from our county and cities. I urge the City of San Jose to approve Councilmember Carrasco’s memo and consider these recommendations.”

The Health and Racial Equity Task Force formulated policy recommendations and

implementation strategies related to disaggregated data analyses; multilingual messaging; accessible testing; culturally appropriate contact tracing; isolation/safe quarantine for individuals; proactive community engagement; personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution; protection of the health of essential workers; workers’ rights and protections; homelessness prevention and eviction protection; treatment for chronic conditions that may increase the severity of COVID-19 illness; and rapid response assistance in priority neighborhoods.

The Task Force’s public hearing included briefings by County of Santa Clara and City of San Jose officials, as well as perspectives from COVID-19 survivors, community health centers, and other community experts.

“The coming together of City, County, and nonprofits to highlight the need for a coordinated response to COVID-19 is the only way that we will ever be able to control the spread of this virus and other such public health emergencies in the future,” said Dolores Alvarado, CEO of Community Health Partnership, the local consortium representing nonprofit community health centers and clinics.

"The pattern is clear: Communities of color are being hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19," said Reymundo Espinoza, CEO of Gardner Health Services. "A community centered approach is vitally important in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and in providing access to care for those disproportionately affected by COVID-19, especially as job losses mount and the number of people who are uninsured or covered by Medicaid rises."

“We deeply appreciate Councilmember Carrasco’s leadership of the Task Force,” stated Michele Lew, CEO of The Health Trust. “Since the Task Force began meeting, we have seen better communication between local government and community organizations, more coordinated deployment of personal protective equipment to essential workers, and expanded outreach to communities hardest hit by COVID-19.”

The Task Force includes leaders representing diverse government, health agencies, and community-based organizations. Members include:

  1. Magdalena Carrasco, Councilmember, City of San Jose
  2. Kansen Chu, Assemblymember, California State Assembly
  3. Raul Peralez, Councilmember, City of San Jose
  4. Dolores Alvarado, CEO, Community Health Partnership
  5. Rebeca Armendariz, Gilroy resident
  6. Milan Balinton, Executive Director, San Jose African American Community Service Agency
  7. Jeffrey Buchanan, Director of Public Policy, Working Partnerships USA
  8. Pete Carrillo, Principal, Silicon Valley Advisors
  9. Reymundo Espinoza, CEO, Gardner Health Services
  10. Patricia Gardner, Principal, PAG Associates
  11. Sarita Kohli, CEO, AACI
  12. Michele Lew, CEO, The Health Trust
  13. Jennifer Loving, CEO, Destination: Home
  14. Maria Marroquin, Executive Director, Mountain View Day Worker Center
  15. Sonya Tetnowski, CEO, Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley

Contact: Frances Herbert, Office of Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, 408.712.4533, frances.herbert@sanjoseca.gov

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