Pandemic Draws Attention To Existing Inequities

The Latino and Black communities have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Michael Stacey, Physician Consultant for the Alameda County Public Health Department told KCBS Radio that the pandemic is highlighting inequalities that have existed for some time.

"There are equity issues that have existed based on policies and structures that have existed for decades. There are things that we need to do to address that,” Dr. Stacey said on KCBS Radio’s "Ask An Expert" Wednesday.

In Alameda County, the Latino community has made up nearly 50% of the overall cases, despite being just under 23% of the overall population.

Dr. Stacey said these issues go far beyond Alameda County or this pandemic, and need to be addressed at a local, state and national level.

"Certainly now, COVID has shined a light on those inequities, and so there’s an opportunity right now for us to, at least as it relates to COVID, to try to make sure that we’re not making those things worse, that we’re actually dedicating our resources specifically to those communities," he said.

That includes partnering with community-based organizations on testing and contact tracing efforts.

"Being able to be there on the ground with trusted partners is important, and even having the communities organize their own testing," said Dr. Stacey.

While it is not yet clear if those efforts are enough to reduce the pandemic’s outsized impact on the Latino community, Alameda County is making progress on fighting the virus overall.

The county has brought its testing positivity rate down to 3.4% and is experiencing six new cases for every 100,000 people each day. If those metrics hold up for two weeks, the county will from the state’s "widespread" risk tier down to the "substantial" tier.