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Regional COVID-19 Taskforce for Equitable Recovery Announced Today


Leaders from across the region today announced the creation of a new Regional COVID-19 Taskforce for Equitable Recovery to implement equitable policies and programs that ensure a fair and just recovery for people of color and underserved communities in the San Diego region. The Taskforce’s first strategy session will be held on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. 

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher joined the Paola Martinez-Montes, Campaign Manager, Invest in San Diego Families, JoAnn Fields, Government and Public Relations Director, Asian Pacific Islander Initiative, Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, National City and Dr. Rodney G. Hood, President, Multicultural Health Foundation to launch the Taskforce during a virtual press conference. Link to the press conference.  

“COVID-19 didn’t cause the economic inequities or health disparities that exist in our society, but it highlighted how a crisis situation can make things more difficult for people struggling because of those injustices,” said Supervisor Fletcher, Co-Chair of the County’s COVID-19 Subcommittee. “Local community and advocacy organizations have stepped-up to lead the charge in finding long-term solutions; I am honored to join them in developing policies and programs that will help San Diegans’ recovery and create a more sustainable future.” 

The concept for this new taskforce was presented to Supervisor Fletcher by the Invest in San Diego Families (ISDF) Coalition. 

“It was this reality that led ISDF partners to call on the County to view the path to recovery, through a racial and equity lens and create this taskforce, otherwise we will risk deepening the injustice our communities have been carrying for hundreds of years,” said Paola Martinez-Montes, Campaign Manager, Invest in San Diego Families. “While some communities advocated for beach days and the reopening of golf courses, Black and brown communities are advocating for housing, worker, and health care protections. While some board of supervisors want to dismiss the number of deaths as inevitable, others must unite and fight for communities and that is what this task force is ready to do.” 

The Regional COVID-19 Taskforce for Equitable Recovery right now has representation from across San Diego County and its membership continues to grow. Several members spoke during today’s announcement.

“As an African American physician who has practiced in San Diego for over 40 years, I salute Supervisor Nathan Fletcher for his vision and leadership creating an entity that will address the long standing health inequities that have been exposed by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dr. Rodney G. Hood, President, Multicultural Health Foundation. “African American, Latino, Asian, and other vulnerable communities have seen a disproportionate coronavirus virus infection rate due to long standing structural racial inequities. We will need proactive strategies and policies to minimize the disproportionate impact on these communities by disrupting systemic inequities with equitable policies and solutions that result in better health outcomes for all San Diego residents. The creation of the new taskforce is a first step to making this a reality.” 

“As we go into our fourth month of battling COVID-19, now more than ever it is extremely critical to increase the County’s T3 efforts (Testing, Tracing & Treatment),” said Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, National City. “These efforts must be done in a culturally competent & multilingual manner and I am ready to increase these efforts in the National City and the South Bay region.”

“It is imperative that the County of San Diego disaggregate Covid-19 cases to better serve the Filipino and Asian Pacific Islander community. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Filipinos are the 2nd largest ethnic group after Latinos in the County. However, the data does not reflect how many are affected by the Coronavirus,” said JoAnn Fields, Government and Public Relations Director, Asian Pacific Islander Initiative. “The hotspots in South County are in the neighborhoods where Filipinos live, work and play. Yet, we do not have adequate testing, treatment nor tracing due to lack of data, in language support and contact tracing. 

“I’m honored to be a part of the COVID-19 Recovery Advisory Committee to be able to advocate for our Filipino and Asian Pacific Islander community. Also to share what the Filipino COVID-19 Taskforce has heard from the community.” 

The complete list of Taskforce members as of today’s announcement are: San Diego Families (ISDF) Coalition, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Center for Policy Initiatives, Dr. Rodney G. Hood, President of the Multicultural Health Foundation, JoAnn Fields, Government and Public Relations Director, Asian Pacific Islander Initiative, Climate Action Campaign, Environmental Health Coalition, Mayor Mary Salas of the City of Chula Vista, Mayor Catherine Blakespear of Encinitas, Councilmember Priya Bhat-Patel of the City of Carlsbad, Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis of National City and Council President Georgette Gomez of the City of San Diego, Steve Padilla, Councilmember for City of Chula Vista, Cipriano Vargas, Trustee, Vista Unified School District.    

Supervisor Fletcher has been pushing since the early days of the pandemic to make sure equitable support and resources were made available to communities of color and underserved populations.  For example, the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund he started in partnership with the San Diego Foundation has raised nearly $17 million and distributed grants to trusted community-based nonprofits to help with food security, financial assistance, the digital divide, rent and utility. Supervisor Fletcher’s Office also provided County of San Diego Neighborhood Revitalization Program grants — and the San Diego Foundation provided grants — to the Central San Diego Black Chamber, the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Asian Business Association of San Diego to support small businesses.