SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Four Bay Area counties fell short of the California Health Equity Metric that requires them to make sure the number the COVID-19 positive results decreases in their most vulnerable communities.
San Francisco, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Sonoma Counties will not be able to move to the next tier of reopening unless those numbers improve.
“[It’s] About time that we’re putting in equity tools that are actually going to have teeth and ensure that underserved communities are finally prioritized,” said Jon Jacobo of the San Francisco Latino Task Force.
Jacobo said the state’s new equity metric is working as designed, directing resources to Black and Brown communities, which have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
But Jacobo said more is needed — like more bilingual contact tracers and financial incentives to encourage frontline workers who are often their families’ sole bread winner to get tested. If they can get a government check, they are more likely to isolate because of the virus. It will take a village to improve the numbers.
“Now as a city, if we’re looking at this as an economic tool to open up businesses to get to 50 percent of opening, you’re going to have to join us in that struggle,” Jacobo said.
Not every county that fell short of the equity benchmark is in a position to move up the state’s color-coded tier. Contra Costa County, for example, just reached the red tier, last week. Its numbers will be measured over the next two weeks to determine whether the county will move forward.
Meanwhile, health officials have announced they will open a new testing center in Bay Point, a location closer to working-class neighborhoods.
“We failed these communities and so we need to improve, we need to get better,” said San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa.
He said his county has begun to move mobile testing sites into some of the hardest hit neighborhoods.
“The field and that game has sort of changed because the equity component wasn’t a part of it before,” said Canepa. “Thank God it is now, because now we can test at a greater rate, and make sure that we’re testing these communities. We can’t leave anyone behind.”