Contact: Robert Hoo, [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
On Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 11:30 AM via Zoom, faith and community leaders with One LA - IAF will share stories collected from hundreds of conversations with residents in low-income neighborhoods who cannot access the COVID-19 vaccine. Leaders will also share a 6 point plan for targeting hot-spot neighborhoods to make the inoculation campaign more efficient and more equitable across LA County.
Faith Leaders Urge County to Focus on Hardest-Hit Neighborhoods
At a press conference on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 at 11:30 AM, One LA - IAF will share on-the-ground stories as well as a six point plan for vaccination teams to partner with local institutions to bring the vaccines into hotspot neighborhoods, which epidemiologists have argued will reduce transmission and deaths, both in individual neighborhoods and in the county as a whole.
In the latest surge of COVID-19 in LA County, faith leaders in low-income neighborhoods have watched their communities disproportionately bear the brunt of severe illness and deaths.
“The last time I gave the mass at our convent, over eighty percent of the catholic sisters there had contracted COVID-19,” said Fr. Kenneth Keke, Pastor at St. Brigid Catholic Church in South LA. “My parish is just as vulnerable- our members have told me story after story of how they can’t get to the vaccine, and it is they and their elderly family members who are suffering the most.”
St. Brigid Catholic Church is a member of One LA - IAF, a broad-based organization made up of 25 member institutions, including churches, synagogues, schools, clinics and nonprofits across LA County, predominantly in neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. These neighborhoods include Pacoima, Westlake, Pico-Union, South LA, Compton, Boyle Heights and El Monte, whose residents have been dying at rates three times higher than those in the county as a whole.
Since LA County began its vaccination campaign, One LA leaders have held hundreds of conversations with their members to find out who has been getting the vaccine, and who is being left behind.
“It makes no sense to me,” said Ortencia Ramirez, a parishioner at San Gabriel Mission and a leader with One LA - IAF. “I’m over 65 and a care-taker for my mother who is in an assisted living center. I have tried for days to get an appointment for the vaccine and had no luck with the County’s system or even my health care provider. Like me, there are hundreds of others at the Mission that have been shut out.”
Maps produced by LA County show staggering levels of spatial inequality. COVID-19 disproportionately impacts poor and minority neighborhoods where essential workers are forced to live in overcrowded conditions. For example, 9 people have died from Covid-19 in Brentwood, while 202 people have died in Westlake, near MacArthur Park.
“Our members are dying. We can’t wait for our families to get through the portals and the lines, while those with internet savvy, time and reliable transportation jump to the front of the queue,” said Fr. Arturo Corral, Pastor at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church (La Placita) in downtown LA. “We want the county and city vaccination teams to come to us. La Placita stands ready to partner with health officials to implement a plan that targets the hardest-hit neighborhoods.”