Health: Push for CoveredCA Sign Ups and Booster
By Dianne Anderson
About 60 percent of the country is now fully vaccinated, but 40% are still on the fence, even with the recent rush for a booster in the face of future variants that could be worse, or much different, than the last one.
Omicron seems to transmit twice as fast as Delta, which traveled twice as fast as the original Alpha, but Delta is still the main culprit, accounting for over 99% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Last week, the nation saw more people going for shots, at over two million shots per day, a level not seen since about seven months ago. As of Saturday, White House Covid-19 data director Cyrus Shahpar tweeted that 2.17 million doses were administered, including 554,000 newly vaccinated and 1.25 million boosters.
Black Women Rally, a group of health professionals, has been monitoring COVID-19 infections and deaths in Los Angeles County since the start of the pandemic.
They report that as of Thanksgiving, Blacks in the county were at 59% vaccinated, and ages 12 and older have received at least one shot, but compared to other groups in the county, they are still lagging. Asians are at 85%, American Indian/Alaska Native at 80%, white at 76%, LatinX at 67%, and African Americans at 59%.
Michael Browning, Policy Director at Black Women Rally for Action – Los Angeles County, said that COVID vaccination Boosters are essential to help fight the new COVID variants and keep Black people out of the hospital or from dying from COVID.
“Many people feel that COVID information is changing so often that they don’t know what to believe from day to day. Our people should accept that information and guidance may change but in order to keep our people alive and well, we need to get vaccinated and follow the last County guidance on getting boosters,” he said.
In Orange County, Ernesta Wright has worked with vaccination support efforts and information for nearly two years. Her nonprofit regularly hosts top of the line panelists to discuss all the issues that the community is dealing with today.
“We’re having health literacy virtual meetings to help understand health coverage. We have health providers also on the panel, and an insurance agent, and very knowledgeable enrollment counselors,” Ernesta Wright, founder and CEO of The G.R.E.E.N Foundation.
Part of the success of her health outreach is that it is viewed as a trusted source for resources in the community. They also help relay and decipher sometimes complicated studies and materials from the CDC and Health and Human Services.
In the past, Wright has served as a navigator with Covered California. Today, she continues to work with the California Black Health Network, and other collaborative partners to ensure the community gets connected to coverage. She said they are connected to all the county agencies and the CDC to get the latest information out to the community.
“We are also providing local support services and information on where vaccinations can be done, testing and support for those impacted from a social service perspective. We see [there is] the flood of sometimes misinformation that impacts locally as well,” she said.
Rhonda Smith, Executive Director of the California Black Health Network, said numerous community-based organizations and agencies now hosting popup clinics. CVS and other pharmacies are widely available, as well as clinics to walk in or easily schedule the vaccine.
While CBHN doesn’t tell people what to do, she said they do help the community in making informed decisions with the best information available.
“We share facts versus fiction, whether it’s COVID or the vaccine. We are putting together a tool kit that can be disseminated to community based organizations, churches, sororities and whoever needs to get their hands on that information,” she said.
CBHN is also a Covered California navigator, and enrolling people right now into health insurance, including qualified healthcare plans, or Medi-Cal. She is also very concerned about the undocumented Black residents that are typically not seeking out help, or they do not realize that help exists.
January 31 is the deadline to enroll.
“We’re doing a lot of different things but it’s all under one umbrella around the campaign for Black health equity, which is our multi-year initiative to focus on improving the life expectancy of Black Californians,” she said.
As part of their outreach, they continue to be diligent on their advocacy, education policy and initiatives that can make the community aware, especially to address the severe impact and death toll of the pandemic.
Even before COVID, she said that Blacks in California, similar to the rest of the nation, have a life expectancy 5.5 years shorter than the white population.
“COVID has added another 1-2 years gap in that. Our work at the more granular level is focused on those health conditions that we can advocate for educate people around, policy and initiatives that can help close that gap in life expectancy for Black Californians.”
For more information, see http://www.thegreenfoundation.net/
To enroll in Covered California and other Black Health resources, see