We Are Healthy LA: Cal State LA’s Response in Time of Crisis
Presented by Jose A. Gomez, Belen Vargas, Zuhey Espinosa and Taffany Lim, Cal State LA
The communities that Cal State LA serves have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA conducted in the spring of 2020 revealed the severe economic impacts of COVID-19 in Southeast Los Angeles County and neighboring communities. A majority of survey respondents in these historically underserved communities of color reported that they had lost their jobs or had work hours reduced. Many were struggling to pay rent and needed financial assistance to survive. As the pandemic continued, those struggles deepened and a trend was clear. Our communities were experiencing a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The data shined a light on the question of equity and the great need for assistance. Helping communities survive the pandemic is the goal of the Cal State LA—We Are Healthy LA initiative, a collaboration with community partners to provide basic needs and help ensure health and safety. Cal State LA has a long and deep relationship with the community. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has worked with community-based organizations and federal, state, and local governments to address urgent needs facing our students and community. The University and its partners have distributed more than 120 tons of food to approximately 5,000 families and students, provided influenza vaccinations to the community, and offered dental clinics. Since February 2021, Cal State LA has served as a COVID-19 vaccination site, one of the first launched by the Biden administration to address equity in the nation’s hardest hit communities. The University’s response to the pandemic aligns with our long-standing role and commitment as a trusted anchor institution, directing resources, innovation, and energy to the public good.