Sheltering-in-place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has increased unemployment, poverty and homelessness nationwide. This has been most acutely and painfully experienced by Marin County residents who were already struggling to survive in California’s most racially disparate county before the pandemic.
Coronavirus has disproportionately affected communities of color, especially Marin County’s Latinx community. While the Latinx community accounts for 16% of Marin County’s population, 70% of our county’s confirmed COVID-19 cases with known ethnicity have occurred among Hispanic/Latino residents.
Higher risk occupations (e.g., construction, food service, caregivers) and crowded housing conditions are driving increase transmission. In addition, persistent racial disparities in employment, income, housing, health status, access to health care, all contribute to greater susceptibility to the virus—both economically and physically.
Support for the Canal Community
The County of Marin has partnered in a variety of ways to provide support to Canal residents who are affected by the COVID-19 virus:
- Partnered with Marin Community Foundation and the Marin Health Care District to provide more than $3 million in disaster relief. This has funded emergency rental assistance and disaster relief payments for COVID-19 positive residents.
- Partnered with the State of California to establish free COVID testing site in the Canal. Additional partnerships with City of San Rafael, Canal Alliance, MarinHealth, and Marin Community Clinics have added additional testing sites within walking distance of the residential portion of the Canal neighborhood.
- Marin County is partnering with Multicultural Center of Marin and Canal Alliance to provide culturally responsive supports and services, including care navigation and housing for COVID-19 positive residents during isolation and quarantine.
While much has been done, entrenched racial inequalities undermines our ability to meet the needs of vulnerable residents and communities across the County. We look forward to growing our community partnerships and implementing strengths-based and community-driven solutions
Preventing Further Impact: Canal Outbreak Response
The County of Marin is partnering with City of San Rafael, Kaiser Permanente, MarinHealth, Canal Alliance and Marin Community Clinics to implement our plan.
The Canal Outbreak Response Plan is an evidence-based and action-oriented strategy focused on the Canal Outbreak to address the following:
|Improved Coordinationp||Increased Community Ownership||Enhanced Strategic Communication|
For the plan to be successful, each action team has members from all partner organizations and meets weekly to ensure activities move forward. In addition, team leads meet weekly to address gaps or emerging issues. The seven action teams include:
|Epidemiology||Health Education||Testing||Isolation / Quarantine||Outreach (Community)||Communication||Partnership (Business & Commerce)|
|Providing Canal-specific data to inform other team activities||Develops education materials designed to support behavior change. Trains promotoras.||Drives Canal-specific enhanced testing.||Coordinate all isolation and quarantine activities to enhance compliance.||Engages community, education, and faith-based organizations to amplify messages and activities||Develops communication strategies to increase awareness and engage media and influencers.||Engages business to support activities|
Key Strategies, Goals and Objectives
The Canal Outbreak Response Plan is a strategic plan designed to be easily replicated for additional outbreaks. For this particular plan focuses on three key strategies:
- Normalize Prevention Activities: Focus on making prevention activities normative through: (a) Tailored audience-centric messages and materials; (b) diverse partnerships across community stakeholders and influencers; (c) consistent behavior change communication at every point of interaction
- Increase Test Seeking Behavior: Focus on increasing testing demand through: (a) More efficient testing process (non-lab dependent); (b) Integration and coordination with quarantine action team; (c) More defined processes; (d) Better understand barriers and define strategies to address
- Improve Quarantine/Isolation Adherance: Focus on improving quarantine / isolation adherance through: (a) Better defining process and services; (b) Better understanding barriers and define strategies to address; (c) Work with business partners regarding reporting and employee support.
To review the Canal Surge Plan goals and objectives in detail, please see the COVID-19 Canal Outbreak Response slidedeck (PDF).
Examples of Success
Below is a partial list of our successes thus far. For a detailed list of successes, please see the COVID-19 Canal Outbreak Response slidedeck (PDF).
- Increased Spanish language media engagement: weekly Canal-specific radio outreach across multiple radio programs.
- San Rafael -based Hotel Secured in Canal for Isolation and Quarantine
- Improved testing access: Testing 6 days per week in walking distance. Marin Community Clinics testing now has improved turnaround time. Antibody testing; rapid testing.
- “Why I Mask” campaign: more than 600 posters have been posted in key areas including all buses that connect in the Canal neighborhood. Accompanying social media campaign launched as well.
- Canal-based Contact Tracers/Investigators: Hiring from community.
- Site-Specific Protection Plan Training Video: Helping Canal businesses to craft their SPP to keep employees and customers safe
- Marin Strong Campaign: Partnered with Equipe (Canal owned and operated business) to provide a "matching" campaign for mask purchases. Marin County, City of San Rafael, and Kaiser Permanente are providing seed funds to launch campaign. In summary, for every mask purchased from Equipe, a second mask will be donated to a resident of the Canal neighborhood. Online link for mask purchases will be available soon.
- Safe Recreation Campaign: In coordination with San Rafael Recreation to address issues at Pickleweed Park, etc.