COVID-19 has had different impacts on different communities across the country. There has been particular concern for communities of color and lower-income communities that often experience poorer outcomes from COVID-19 nationally.
The County of Orange has taken a data-driven approach that looks at COVID-19 testing, positivity, and deaths rates to ensure that all communities in Orange County are able to attain the best health outcomes including access to testing, outreach, education, and referral services.
The Orange County COVID-19 Dashboard shows data confirmed cases and deaths by demographics including age groups, race/ethnicity, and gender.
The State of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy includes a health equity metric which will be used (along with other metrics) to determine a county's tier. The purpose of this metric is to ensure California reopens its economy safely by reducing disease transmission in all communities. The equity metric and requirements will be effective October 6, 2020. Learn more at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/CaliforniaHealthEquityMetric.aspx.
To ensure equitable access to testing services, free COVID-19 testing is available throughout Orange County including individuals with no health insurance. COVID-19 testing locations and pop-up sites are available in areas with highest positivity rates (positive test cases as a percent of total tests).
Support for Financial, Food, and Housing Needs
Nationally, inequities in outcomes due to COVID-19 are tied to disparities in how communities can access food, housing, and other basic needs. Orange County's Health Referral Line helps individuals living in Orange County find information and services they need for COVID-19. Health Referral Line staff will also help connect individuals to needed resources. The Health Referral Line is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Korean.
The County of Orange coordinates referrals to services that address essential needs of our communities:
- Food Assistance – Food programs to help communities include CalFresh, WIC, school meals, and senior food programs.
- Financial Assistance – Financial and employment assistance is available through public programs as well as assistance with rent, utilities, transportation, and childcare.
- Homelessness Care and Housing Support – Orange County has organized homeless response and support for those needing housing support for COVID-19 isolation.
Mental Health Support and Resources
The OC Health Care Agency's Behavioral Health Services division has developed COVID-19 mental health resources to help people cope with the uncertainty, isolation, financial worries, and concerns of COVID-19. Videos have been developed on safe distancing, feeling lonely, and being resilient. The videos are available in multiple languages. There is also a WarmLine that provides confidential 7-day a week telephone support for mental health and substance use issues (877) 910-WARM or Live Chat at National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Orange County.
Latino Health Equity Initiative
The County of Orange launched the Latino Health Equity Initiative in June 2020 after testing data showed higher COVID-19 positivity among Latinos in Orange County, particularly in the cities of Anaheim and Santa Ana.
The initiative is a partnership between OC Health Care Agency, Latino Health Access, Santa Ana and Anaheim Unified School Districts, the Coalition of Community Health Centers, and others. Through this initiative, Latino Health Access offers increased testing, outreach, education, contact notification support, and referral services through a "promotora" or community peer outreach model that addresses the root causes impacting these communities.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Partnerships
Orange County is home to significant Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. OC Health Care Agency has contracted with Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance and Korean Community Services Health Center to address barriers to testing and care that these communities may experience. The launch of the OC API Taskforce includes partnerships with the following agencies to address the diverse populations being served: Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center, Hope Community Services, https:// www.pacifichealthpartners.org/, South Asian Network, Southland Integrated Services, The Cambodian Family, Viet Rainbow of Orange County, and Vietnamese American Cancer Foundation. This partnership offers increased testing, testing navigation support, outreach, education, contact notification support, and referrals to needed services.
OC API Strike Team Launch
St. Joseph Hospital: COVID-19 Health Equity Grant
The Health Equity Grant allows St. Joseph Hospital the ability to expand the community health worker (CHWs) workforce in Orange County by providing additional staff and resources to organizations already providing COVID education and outreach. The CHWs provide both individuals and groups with accurate education related to COVID-19. St. Joseph Hospital chose to support Latino Health Access and the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Taskforce because of their already established partnerships with the Orange County Health Care Agency and proven success in ensuring health equity in the community. Funds from the initiative also support:
- Supplying COVID-19 health kits with multilingual information to community members.
- Purchasing and building of COVID Outreach Kit for patients receiving outreach and/or testing, and COVID Care Kits for patients who test positive
- Community based outreach, distribution of COVID kits, education and referral in targeted high transmission neighborhoods
- Digital / virtual outreach