Through an exciting new partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Canal Alliance will participate in the development of more effective measures for COVID-19 testing, resource distribution and vaccine distribution in under-resourced, Latino-immigrant communities. This partnership, called Aliados por la Salud (Allies for Health), also includes the United Way of Merced County, and is funded by an 18-month grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The goal of the partnership and the research project is to “understand factors that have led to the disproportionate burden of the pandemic on underserved populations and to support improved access and uptake of SARS-CoV-2 testing.
Specific objectives of Aliados por la Salud include: 1) creating a collaborative network between community leaders and community-based organizations in Marin, Merced, and San Francisco, to identify challenges and propose solutions for improving COVID-19 service delivery; 2) understanding the burden of COVID-19 in majority-Latino communities by offering community-based, free, and easy to access COVID-19 testing and a supportive response for those who test positive, and 3) evaluating strategies for retesting front-line workers or other high-risk groups.
Canal Alliance CEO, Omar Carrera, is optimistic that this project will bring much-needed resources and information to the Latino immigrant community in Marin. “The communities supported by this project have been hit the hardest by this pandemic. While testing and messaging has been promoted in our community, community members have become resistant to testing because they fear that a positive test result could mean a loss of income. We hope that this collaboration will allow us to work together to provide a supportive response for our community.”
Through this partnership, UCSF will provide testing and the partner organizations will collaborate to provide a community-based, strategic respond to the crisis. Canal Alliance will work with other organizations and community members in Marin County, and United Way of Merced County will provide the same organization and resource distribution to Planada, a community with a similar demographic profile located in Merced county. The three partner organizations have already collaborated extensively to organize COVID-19 outreach and information distribution. While Planada and the Canal neighborhood share similar demographics and a community challenged by a lack of resources, the communities are also quite different. For example, while some testing has been made available in the Canal neighborhood, largely through Canal Alliance advocacy efforts, there is no testing available in Planada.
Monthly collaborative meetings offer a group discussion platform for community members to give voice to community concerns and needs about COVID-19 testing, post-test support, vaccination distribution and prevention. Through this approach, ideas are shared, innovative approaches are discussed as options to address concerns and provide community support and partnership in planning and mobilizing for community testing events.
Yolanda Oviedo, Canal Alliance Senior Manager Residential Properties/Covid Response, and the leader of Marin’s Latino COVID-19 Collaborative said, “if we are successful in educating the community about testing, prevention, and vaccination, we can put the effects of this pandemic behind us.”
Since the virus is unpredictable and will be present in all our lives for foreseeable future, members of this partnership and collaborative are working to normalize testing and provide resource and vaccine distribution in the respective communities. Community testing in Merced and Marin counties will be offered in February, and the two organizations are currently planning a massive health event in early Spring.
Omar adds, “While this project continues, Canal Alliance looks forward to partnering with other communities to find and implement creative ways to support community members, including providing COVID-19 benefits, resources, rapid testing, and vaccine distribution. We hope this partnership will provide valuable information to the NIH and help inform national strategies to combat this pandemic within the most vulnerable and impacted communities.”
If you or someone you know is interested in participating in Marin’s Latino COVID-19 Collaborative, email Yolanda Oviedo at firstname.lastname@example.org.