The New York Times reports on inequities in COVID economic burdens, illness and death across Los Angeles County: “In Los Angeles County, the impacts of the pandemic have been relatively diffuse, with millions of residents suffering and grieving in isolation across a famously vast sprawl. Lockdowns — some of the nation’s most stringent, credited with saving thousands of lives — have kept Angelenos apart for months on end. But recently, as Los Angeles County has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, the astonishing surge has reinforced the virus’s unequal toll, pummeling poorer communities of color. Experts say that deeply rooted inequality is both a symptom and a critical cause of Covid-19’s overwhelming spread through the nation’s most populous county. “The challenge is that even before the surge, we had unevenness in Los Angeles County and in the state of California — we had smoldering embers in parts of our community all the time,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, the vice dean for population health and health equity at the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “Our interconnectedness is part of the story.” County officials recently estimated that one in three of Los Angeles County’s roughly 10 million people have been infected with Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. But even amid an uncontrolled outbreak, some Angelenos have faced higher risk than others. County data shows that Pacoima, a predominantly Latino neighborhood that has one of the highest case rates in the nation, has roughly five times the rate of Covid-19 cases as much richer and whiter Santa Monica.”
On Tuesday, President Biden signed three executive orders relating to immigration requiring the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security to review public charge rules developed by the previous administration, including evaluating the effects of the current public charge rules on immigrants, and proposing changes within 60 days, an executive order directing DHS to reunite hundreds of immigrant families who have been separated by previous admin's zero-tolerance policies; and a review of policies that have limited the right of refugees to claim asylum in the US.
The House adopted a budget resolution to allow the budget reconciliation process to pass President Biden’s $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief package with a simple majority vote. On a party line vote, Senate approved a budget resolution to advance President Biden's $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief bill this morning.
The consulting firm McKinsey agreed to a nearly $600-million settlement for its role in promoting deadly opioids, even as the scale of the addiction crisis became clear. “McKinsey’s role in the opioid crisis came into focus in recent months in legal documents that were made public as part of the OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s efforts to settle claims against it through a bankruptcy court in New York. They showed the company long worked with Purdue to boost sales even as the extent of the opioid epidemic became clear. Some documents showed it was trying to “supercharge” flagging OxyContin sales in 2013. Its efforts over the years included encouraging Purdue sales representatives to focus on doctors who already prescribed high volumes of OxyContin and to try to move patients to more potent doses of the drug.’
In a blog post shared by NACCHO this week, Alisha Somji and Alexis Captanian explore how local leaders are developing innovative ways for people to connect during COVID-19: “COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of technologies, from telehealth to chatbots, and allowed for community members to stay connected in new ways. It is important for local leaders to sustain these innovations while also ensuring communities most affected by issues like social isolation, suicide and ACEs have access and are included. To do this, leaders need to:
- Understand who in the community is at increased risk for social isolation and loneliness, and direct resources to those groups. For example, the Oregon Alliance designed LGBTQ+ mini grants knowing that Portland had the second largest LGBTQ+ population in the country, a community that is disproportionately impacted by social isolation.
- Identify gaps in technology access and reliability. Ensure that tech-reliant strategies are paired with focused efforts to close those gaps. After School Matters was able to determine through its survey in which parts of the city students were most likely to lack adequate connectivity, and the City of Chicago identified priority students through specific indicators.
- Asking the right questions helps to form a complete picture. For instance, to fully understand access, it is important to know not only the number of devices in a household, but also how many people are relying on those devices on a regular basis.
- Leverage existing programs, resources, and technologies. Leaders across the country have implemented programs, created resources, and leveraged technologies to support their communities. While it is important to consider a specific local context, opportunities exist to learn from current efforts and even share already created resources, such as AARP Foundation’s Connect2Affect platform.
- Where possible, make a permanent infrastructure investment or policy change that will outlive the crisis. The utility poles installed in Florida and the telehealth law implemented in Maryland are examples of what can be rapidly accomplished during a catastrophic event to address longstanding issues, benefitting residents during times of stability and also in future emergencies.”