Los Angeles, California March 4, 2021
Last week, the new COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force appointed by the Biden-Harris administration met for the first time, including on its twelve-member committee California native and children’s advocate Mayra E. Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership, a California policy and advocacy organization working to advance health equity for children.
“These past twelve months saw deepening inequities for children and families in California and across the country. The pandemic, the economy, and ongoing racial injustice have had profound impacts to our already marginalized children,” Alvarez said. “I am deeply honored for the opportunity to work with the Task Force and Biden-Harris Administration to rectify the pervasive and systemic issues at play and ensure a more equitable future for all.”
The group’s first meeting, which took place on Friday, February 26, follows the President’s January 21 executive order to create a task force to address health inequities caused and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the National Strategy to combat the pandemic released by President Biden and Vice President Harris, the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force will recommend strategies to help shape response and recovery.
“What we are seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic in California is similar to what we’re seeing in the rest of the country,” said Alvarez. “Families who already faced poverty, are now faring worse. Existing inequities impacting Black and brown children have only been amplified: 80% of COVID-19 cases in children ages 0-17 are children of color and that alone should be telling, disheartening, and all the evidence we need to move forward recommendations that center the needs of our most marginalized communities.”
Chaired by Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force represents diverse backgrounds and population expertise including students, immigrants, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, rural communities, indigenous communities, and others.
Last week’s meeting kickstarts the development of both short- and long-term recommendations including equitable allocation of COVID-19 relief funds, effective and culturally-responsive outreach strategies, and improvements in federal data collection for underserved groups, culminating in a final report that strives to mitigate ongoing disparities in continued and future federal pandemic response.