Leaders Worry the Cases Will Increase Amid the Demonstrations for Social Justice
LOS ANGELES – Black Americans make up about eight percent of the population in Los Angeles County, and yet to date, they account for more than 12 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in the county. This disparity is happening across the country. Nationwide, they make up 13 percent of the population, yet they account for 27 percent of the COVID-19 cases, and an estimated 27 percent of the deaths. L.A. Care Health Plan, The California Endowment, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health are holding a COVID-19 Leadership Summit to discuss and address the devastating disproportionate impact within Black communities.
“Eleven percent of L.A. Care members are Black Americans, and we want to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep our members healthy, such as personal phone calls to high-risk members about testing, and ensuring their needs are met, whether it’s medication, food or emotional support,” said James Kyle, MD, L.A. Care Medical Director for Quality Improvement. “By bringing together leaders from all facets of health care in the county, we can begin to develop strategies to prevent further COVID-19 spread in this population.”
The summit leaders hope to learn more about what fellow community partners are doing to assist residents, and explore ways to combat persistent disparities, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future. Summit leaders will also speak to the current civil unrest across the country and how social justice issues are viewed through a public health lens, as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, health leaders will discuss how to encourage those demonstrating for social justice to follow public health guidelines, including the use of masks, to avoid a spike in the very community already disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“We want to hear exactly what those on the front line of this battle are seeing to better understand the shocking rates within the African American community,” said Dr. Anthony Iton, Senior Vice President of The California Endowment. “The California Endowment is working hard with its partners to address health inequities among communities experiencing disproportionality not only in the COVID-19 pandemic but are longstanding inequalities from broken and failed systems and policies.”
Presenters today will include Muntu Davis, MD, the Health Officer for the L.A. County Department of Public Health, Elan Schultz, the L.A. County Department of Health Services Community Testing Manager, David Carlisle, MD, PhD, the President and CEO of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, and Jennifer Vallejo, the Mental Health Deputy for L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis. There will also be a presentation by the Advancement Project California, which has produced a report called Race Counts – How Race, Class and Place Fuel a Pandemic.
The COVID-19 Leadership Summit is being held via webinar today, June 4, at 1:00 pm. Organizers expect more than 100 attendees.
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About L.A. Care Health Plan
L.A. Care Health Plan is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of health coverage programs including L.A. Care Covered™, Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With more than two million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.
About The California Endowment
The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental affordable improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. At its core, The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. Learn more at www.calendow.org.