In the first of an ongoing series of video meeting dialogues on health equity, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and county Health Officer, Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, marshaled more than 100 members of the community to discuss targeted interventions to directly address the disproportionate loss of life to COVID-19 suffered among African Americans, Hispanics and lower-income residents of Anne Arundel County.
Among those participating were representatives from community nonprofits, clergy, city and county leaders, and education and elected officials. Throughout the meeting, participants shared ideas through online chats and commented on effective ways to break through barriers and reach people with fewer resources, who may lack computers and wifi access.
“We know that African Americans are impacted by COVID 19 two to three times more than whites. This is not surprising because of the inequities that we see throughout the county and throughout the country,” said County Executive Pittman. “This is about race, income and where you live.”
Dr. Kalynaraman said health equity is a key priority for the county, and he framed the meeting as one focused on finding solutions. “Speed is of the essence. We can’t solve this all at once, but we know that gaps and disparities only get worse during crises,” he said.
Among the ideas offered were text messaging, graphics, microtargeting to smaller pockets of people, greater access to computers, “bundling” education materials to points of contact, more bi-lingual caseworkers, and providing more translated information.
“Nothing in this world gives us a greater sense of purpose than saving lives,” said County Executive Pittman. “When we recognize that all lives have the same inherent value, we truly fulfill our potential as communities.”
The next meeting will be held on Monday, April 20.