COVID-19 Response and Recovery
COVID-19 has revealed the stark inequities in the health and economic security of California communities with particularly alarming health disparities in health outcomes for Latinx, African Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
BARHII and over 1000 community and public health partners developed a COVID-19 strategy and Investment Plan to help public health departments and local governments respond to COVID-19 equitably and in a manner that reduces disparities amongst our most vulnerable communities.
The 4 R's of COVID-19 Recovery:
BARHII's Rolling Response and Recovery Platform
An Equitable Recovery for the Bay Area
Some have referred to COVID-19 as the great equalizer because viruses don’t discriminate. But while viruses don’t discriminate, people and policies can and do. In the few short months that COVID-19 has disrupted our nation, more people have died from the pandemic than in the Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq Wars; the S&P 500 plummeted from an all-time high; thousands of businesses have closed; and unemployment—particularly among low income workers—has skyrocketed to a level not seen since the Great Depression.
The cost of this outbreak has been disproportionately borne by communities of color. Black and brown workers make up the majority of essential personnel, and are more likely to be locked into expensive, unstable housing thanks to exclusionary rental and lending practices. Unhoused Americans and imprisoned people, who are also disproportionately people of color, are likewise unable to self-quarantine, and are further deprived of access to sanitation, family, and resources as the rest of society shuts down
What is a Rolling Recovery?
Public health professionals have warned that the COVID-19 Pandemic and the accompanying financial strains of a recession will require an agile response. COVID-19 response and recovery are occurring simultaneously. This plan is designed to use early warning indications from its core team, BARHII and Rise Together members, and real time data to adjust our recovery strategy. The documents below highlight pivot points of change in the recovery process that we are anticipating to ensure needs responsiveness over the next 18-24 months. Equity needs to happen in the decision-making process, not just the outcomes.
BARHII has invited a core team of partners to serve as the “Early warning system” of needs related to recovery and to identify leverage points to advance platform priorities. If you are interested in joining this core team, please contact Melissa Jones at MJones@BARHII.org.
COVID-19 Local Policy and Investment Guide
BARHII and Rise Together have created the following policy and investment guide to support local governments across the region in responding to COVID-19 in ways that safeguard the health and economic well-being of everyone who calls the Bay Area home.
COVID-19 has revealed stark inequities in the health and economic security of California’s communities, with particularly alarming disparities in health outcomes by race and ethnicity. These disparities are driven by current inequitable policies and practices and a legacy of historic discrimination, which puts Black, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and other communities impacted by inequities most in harm’s way. For example, the lack of adequate protective measures for many “essential workers”—a population that is disproportionately people of color—has fostered a racial divide between those who can “shelter in place” and those who cannot. These inequities are likely major contributors to California’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases, which brought our state’s economic re-opening process to a standstill and threatens the health of all the state’s residents.
This is a sadly familiar pattern. The Bay Area has experienced many similar systemic failures, including the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s, the Great Recession of 2008, and the ongoing violence against African Americans by law enforcement professionals. These events demonstrate how our governmental response to moments of crisis can differentially shape the health and economic future of distinct communities, with reverberations across our entire region. They also offer lessons to inform our response to the COVID-19 pandemic—guiding us toward equitable approaches that protect those who are most in harm’s way to ensure our collective well-being.
As more industries re-open (or never closed in the first place), it is essential that every worker have access to the protective gear and procedures they need to remain safe and healthy, especially people working in heavily impacted industries. Protecting workers is an equity issue—COVID risks are concentrated in Black and brown workers and workers with little power in the workplace, such as undocumented workers. Protecting workers is also crucial to protecting everyone’s health. We cannot slow a rapidly spreading virus until we shut off the key routes of transmission, including our workplaces.
This document presents the results of BARHII’s preliminary scan of the physical workplace conditions facing essential workers, and of potential opportunities for health departments and their allies to improve these conditions. While these recommendations concern mitigating specifically physical threats of the COVID virus, it is important to note that we need integrated responses to worker safety. Throughout this project we have heard again and again that physical protections for workers are meaningless unless workers know that they are: A) protected from economic impacts to themselves and their families in the case of an outbreak, and B) protected from the threat or fear of ICE and the police. Without these supports, workers simply disappear upon testing positive. Workers who live paycheck to paycheck face the prospect of not being able to feed their families, and consequently resist testing and contact tracing that would require them to stop working, unless certain that the missed time will be covered through paid leave, unemployment insurance, or other cash benefits. We therefore recommend that jurisdictions consider the suite of actions below as a package, as they work towards physical protections for essential workers.
Over the past several months, BARHII/Rise Together has been working diligently to compile resources and respond to the COVID-19 crisis. We greatly appreciate the hard work of our members and partners during this time and want to make the resources we’ve compiled from that work available to better work toward a comprehensive public health and economic response.
Efforts to respond to COVID-19 are increasing rapidly in the Bay Area, and it’s critical to protect housing equity and economic stability for families in that response. Not only can housing insecurity disrupt a family's ability to shelter in place and practice social distancing, but it forces unhealthy trade-offs between paying for housing and investing in medical care, nutrition, and other basic needs. The lack of certainty and threat to financial stability can lead to mental health impacts including higher rates of depression and other impacts to overall health.
Below, please find resources compiled over the last several months of BARHII events and trainings. This page will be updated with additional resources as they become available.
As we continue to respond to this crisis, it’s important that we’re able to provide you the resources and support you need for your own response. Our team is available to provide technical assistance, including help in gathering information and developing op-eds.