Health Equity Metric Added to COVID-19 Data
By edhat staff
Santa Barbara County Public Health Officials report on the new health equity metric added to county data during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.
Public Health Director (PHD) Van Do-Reynoso explained this new metric developed by the state began today with the goal to reduce and possibly eliminate disparities in the levels of COVID-19 transmission among county residents. The count will need to meet an equity metric and/or demonstrate targeted investments to eliminate disparities in levels of transmission.
"It has been clearly documented that certain communities - low-income, Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, and essential workers – have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in terms of higher rates of infection, hospitalizations, and deaths. These disparities create a public health imperative to address exposure in all communities, including especially those disproportionately impacted, as a measure to protect all communities," according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
The Blueprint for a Safer Economy measures county's COVID-19 case rate and test positivity to determine when a county can move to a less restrictive tier. Most counties have significant differences in test positivity among more and less advantaged neighborhoods, with these differences often also overlapping with race and the likelihood of employment as essential workers, according to CDPH.
The Equity Metric will "ensure that the test positivity rates in its most disadvantaged neighborhoods, as defined as being in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index census tracts, do not significantly lag behind its overall county test positivity rate."
For Santa Barbara County this will include sections of Santa Maria, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Isla Vista, east and westside areas of Santa Barbara, and unincorporated north county areas.
PHD must also submit a plan defines its disproportionately impacted populations, specifies the percent of its COVID-19 cases in these populations, and shows that it plans to invest Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases grant funds at least at that percentage to interrupt disease transmission in these populations.
The targeted investments can include spending on augmenting testing, disease investigation, contact tracing, isolation/quarantine support, and education and outreach efforts for workers. This plan must be submitted to CDPH by October 13.
Do-Reynoso stated that while it's possible for a county to move back to a more restrictive tier due to case rates and testing positivity, the health equity metric will not be included in moving backward.
The county has collaborated with 93 cross-sectional partners to develop and share educational resources, programs, and outreach services to reach these vulnerable communities.
The full report can be viewed here.