In yet another moving of the goal post, Governor Newsom announced Sept. 30 that counties will have to pass a “health equity metric” in order to move into less-restrictive tiers and reopen their economies.
The first component targets counties over 106K residents, such as San Bernardino County, requiring that "positive COVID rates in disadvantaged neighborhoods do not significantly lag behind a county’s overall positivity numbers.”
Disadvantaged neighborhoods are determined by the Healthy Places Index . The website rates communities with indicators such as access to housing, health care, retail density, supermarkets, tree canopies and parks — and then places them into color-coded zones. Oddly, how many residents voted in the last general election is among the numerous metrics.
Most of the First District is placed in the “blue zone,” which makes reopening extraordinarily difficult and punitive due to our rural desert geography. The Governor’s Index states: "Everybody should have trees and other plant life near their home. Trees are essential to mitigate the effects of climate change."
How climate change has anything to do with COVID is a mystery. What is a fact is that many of San Bernardino County’s rural desert communities have remained largely unaffected by COVID.
This new equity metric is nothing short of discrimination.
If Governor Newsom truly wants to help our disadvantaged communities he needs to let our residents get back to work — not keep them locked up in financial and emotional ruin.
The equity metric is anything but equitable, and is hurting the very people it claims to be helping. Many of our County’s most disadvantaged residents work minimum wage jobs at restaurants, hotels and other hospitality sectors that have been hit hardest by the closures. Mom-and-pop businesses continue to shutter as Amazon’s sales reach record highs. And more than 1.6 million Californians are still waiting for their unemployment checks since the state-wide closures in March.
The men and women in our disadvantaged communities have a deep sense of pride being independent and self-sufficient through their work as both small business owners and as loyal employees. The shutdowns continue to rob and damage them, both financially and emotionally. This is hardly equitable. Keeping our disadvantaged residents — many who live in multi-generational households in small quarters — out of work and shut inside their homes makes them more likely to contract and spread the virus.
Virtue signaling has no place in the reopening of our economy. The curve was flattened. Hospitalizations are down. Roughly 99.6 percent of those who contract the virus survive. I think it’s time for the People of California to decide what is best for themselves and their families.
The only equitable solution is for the Governor to reopen California and allow our “disadvantaged" residents to get back to work.