Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Advancement Project California’s RACE COUNTS initiative has provided Californians with novel and timely analyses and policy solutions that account for the interests of hardest-hit communities across the state: low-income and communities of color. This work is only possible because of strong community partnerships. Here we will share the impact of our work in Los Angeles County over the course of the past year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that one of the deadliest underlying conditions in America is systemic racism. Released in May 2020, our interactive report How Race, Class, and Place Fuel a Pandemic was one of the first to bring attention to COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black, Latinx, Native American, and Pacific Islander communities in Los Angeles County. Angelenos in hardest-hit communities faced multiple challenges as more affluent communities were able to shelter in place safely.
Our report highlighted how
Advancement Project California brought community-based organizations with deep roots in impacted communities to review our data findings. Together, we crafted recommendations to ensure the health and safety of everyone, regardless of race and income.
LA County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl authored a motion incorporating many of the report’s recommendations. After the motion passed, County Board Supervisors asked Advancement Project California to bring together representatives from various sectors to operationalize the recommendations. This cross-sector workgroup prioritized increased testing in the communities disparately impacted. To help the workgroup further its goals, we conducted a Hot Spot Analysis to help the group identify the hardest-hit communities. Then LA County developed its analysis based on ours and used it to determine future testing sites. They emphasized leveraging trusted messengers to educate hard-to-reach communities about the spread of the virus and dispel myths related to testing. The cross-sector workgroup also created a community-based rapid response model for LA County to deploy in the hardest-hit communities.
The cross-sector workgroup wrapped up and summarized their work into a community-based rapid response memo that emphasized investing in community-based organizations as an indispensable element of LA County’s emergency preparedness and response. LA County established a multi-million-dollar COVID-19 Equity Fund to reach residents of hardest-hit communities, with grant amounts ranging from $100-$500 thousand.
With infection rates trending downward and the economy reopening, we need to remain vigilant and continue to advocate for our most vulnerable communities. Equitable vaccine access is critical, and dismantling barriers to access requires urgent action. Our next pivot is to frame what a just and equitable post-pandemic recovery looks like in our hardest-hit communities. Our public leaders must prioritize investments in these communities to ensure that they not only survive but thrive in the future.