California Adds “Equity Requirement” to Reopening Framework

California’s counties have a new metric to meet before they can expand the reopening of their economies. Under a new equity requirement, counties with more than 106,000 residents must first secure declines in cases in disadvantaged communities which tend to be largely non-white, poorer, and much more susceptible to the disease.

“Our entire state has come together to redouble our efforts to reduce the devastating toll COVID-19 has had on our Latino, Black and Pacific Islander communities,” said California’s acting public health officer, Dr. Erica Pan.

“This isn’t just a matter of higher cases in these communities — it is an issue of life and death that is hurting all Californians. An all-community, cross-sector approach to work together to slow the transmission of COVID in all populations will help ensure we reopen our economy safely, protect our essential workers and support our local partners.”

This is a carrot and stick approach. Counties cannot move into less restrictive tiers without a decline in cases in these disadvantaged areas. But if they succeed in bringing cases down in these regions, they can reopen faster than they otherwise would have.

People of color make up a disproportionate percentage of COVID-19 infections and deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, case rates are 2.8x higher for Native Americans and Latinos, 2.6x higher for African Americans, and 1.1x higher for Asians. Death rates are 2.1x higher for African Americans and 1.1 x higher for Latinos.

Read more about the new requirement at the Los Angeles Times.


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