Imperial County Board of Supervisors

The following is a prepared testimony in support of the Healthy Equity Resolution, Equity Committee and Data Collection delivered to the Imperial County Board of Supervisors.

Good Morning Board Chair Plancarte and Supervisors Escobar, Castillo, Ryan Kelley and Michael Kelley.

My name is Crystal Quezada. I am the senior community advocate in Imperial County for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The ACLU is a proud partner of the Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition.

We are here today to express our support for the proposed Health Equity Resolution that would establish a County Health Equity Committee that would, among other things, assess and offer recommendations addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable communities and essential workers.

This pandemic has tested our institutions and exposed deeply rooted inequities. Now more than ever, we must uphold our shared values of equity and fairness for all members of our community.

In California and across the nation, we see clear evidence of the devastating, disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on people of color, especially in the Black and Latino communities. As Governor Gavin Newsom said recently, Latino and Black workers make up large segments of the state’s essential workforce, including farm workers, construction workers, cooks, laborers, truck drivers and cashiers. This makes them more likely to be exposed to the virus and fall ill.

Unfortunately, we still do not have a full understanding of the impact COVID-19 is having in the Imperial Valley because we do not have a standardized data collection process.

Other jurisdictions in the state, such as San Diego County, Monterey County and the City of Oakland, have created regional taskforces, similar to the one proposed here today, to examine the impact of racial and health disparities in their COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Imperial County must also be a leader in this area.

The proposed Health Equity Committee will help us identify opportunities to address pre-existing disparities that make people more likely to become seriously ill or die from COVID-19. Data collection and analysis is also essential in directing resources to the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

We urge you to direct the Imperial Public Health Department to issue a public health order requiring hospitals, health care providers and labs in Imperial County to provide demographic and occupation/industry data as part of laboratory submission forms.

We must collect data that includes, among other things, information on race, ethnicity, pre-existing conditions and essential worker status by industry. This public health order would streamline demographic data collection in the county.

We the people are counting on you, our elected representatives, to act responsibly in this unprecedented public health crisis.

Thank you.