New COVID-19 County Health Equity Requirement Begins Tomorrow

Blueprint for a Safer EconomyIn an effort to reduce COVID-19 transmission across all of California’s communities, starting tomorrow, October 6, 2020, the more populous counties will need to meet a health equity metric in order to further open their economies.

To advance to the next less restrictive tier in the state’s COVID-19 Tier Framework, a county, depending on its size, will need to meet an equity metric and/or show plans for targeted investments to eliminate neighborhood disparities in levels of COVID-19 transmission. Those investments can include spending on augmenting testing, disease investigation, contact tracing, isolation/quarantine support, and education and outreach efforts for workers.

The health equity metric will apply to the 35 counties with populations greater than 106,000. The remaining 23 counties are excluded from meeting the equity metric, but must demonstrate the targeted investments.

The details of the new health equity requirement can be found in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy: Covid-19 and Equity guidance.

Focus on Equity

According to information gathered by public health officials, the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on certain communities—such as low-income, Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, and essential workers—reflected in higher rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalizations, and deaths. These disparities, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) states, create a public health imperative to address exposure in all communities, including especially those disproportionately affected, as a means to protect all communities.

The Blueprint for a Safer Economy relies on two measures—case rate and test positivity—to determine when a county can move to a less restrictive tier with more sector openings and resultant increased interaction among residents. In order to avoid a surge of infections, the level of baseline infection in a community should be progressively lower as there is more movement and mixing.

Beginning October 6, the health equity metric will be an additional factor in determining the tiers of the more populous counties to ensure test positivity rates in disadvantaged neighborhoods don’t fall significantly behind the overall county test positivity rate.

According to the CDPH, most counties have significant differences in test positivity among more and less advantaged neighborhoods, with these differences often also overlapping with race and likelihood of employment as essential workers.

Especially as counties move into less restrictive tiers with more movement, the importance of this differential prevalence of infection grows because mixing and opportunities for transmission increase.  Therefore, it is imperative to reduce disease transmission in all communities to ensure California reopens its economy safely.

More Information

A link to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy can be found on the CalChamber Coronavirus Resource page.

The page also contains key COVID-19 updates; current information on new labor laws and ordinances; and links to popular COVID-19-related articles.

The CalChamber Coronavirus Resource page can be found at www.calchamber.com/coronavirus.