We are called essential, but treated as disposable. Support vaccine equity for the Latinx Community

February 22, 2021

Governor Inslee

PO Box 40002

Olympia, WA. 98504-0002


Secretary of Health Shah

416 Sid Snyder Ave SW STE 220

Olympia, WA 98501


Subject: Vaccine Equity and Covid-19 Funding and Assistance for the Latinx Community


Dear Honorable Governor Jay Inslee,

Dear Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah,


In the pursuit of equity, we, the undersigned, representing grassroots Latinx organizations from across Washington State, are writing to strongly urge you to fund grassroots organizations who are providing vaccine outreach, education, and assistance with access to appointments, for the Latinx community.


The Vaccine Equity Fund that was just announced will likely not be available to be utilized until the end of 2021; it is unacceptable that concerted outreach to the Latinx community will not happen in a timely way.


The state has neglected our community since the pandemic began and the data irrefutably shows the results of this neglect. Just 4.7% of the Latinx population in the state has received their first dose of vaccine – much lower than the state’s Latinx population of 13.2%. We have accounted for as high as 43% of COVID-19 cases in the state, and as of February 17, 2021, constituted 32% of cases, according to the Latino Center for Health at UW. The message to the Latinx community is: “We are called essential, but we are treated as disposable.”


Latino Civic Alliance has convened a standing meeting with Latinx organizations from across the state every month since March 2020. These organizations have been working together to communicate our concerns with the Department of Health; we have offered solutions that seek to mitigate the effects of structural racism with regards to equity around the Covid-19 response. We have been met with a lack of action which has resulted in the dismal outcomes evidenced in the Department of Health’s own data. Latinx organizations have invested considerable resources to conduct outreach, one-on-one assistance, and distribute material goods. We have shouldered this burden without adequate resources or support.


It is unconscionable that DOH leadership admits that the vaccine roll-out is inequitable, but still refuses to take immediate action to change the trajectory of the devastation being inflicted on our Latinx community.


Our demands are as follows:


1. Provide immediate multi-year funding for Latinx grassroots community-based organizations for:

a. Conducting outreach, education, and vaccine appointment assistance to Latinx

communities, and long-term strategic planning.

b. Planning and implementation of actions to address the effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

We can provide regional lists of Latinx organizations that should receive funding to provide

direct outreach and supportive services for vaccination access.


2. Include statewide regional grassroots Latinx representation at the state level decision-making tables where policies and funding that affect the Latinx community are being decided.


3. Provide an immediate and clear long-term action plan for a state response to the overall

impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Latinx communities:

a. Include agricultural and meat packing workers.

b. Include high-risk essential workers (home health care, food service, construction, and

hospitality workers and others).

c. Include individuals incarcerated in prisons and detention centers.


4. Improve and implement vaccine access:

a. Provide mass vaccination sites with evening hours, and weekend availability.

b. Use mobile pop-up vaccination sites for rural areas where distances are greater.

c. Phase Finder tool does not work for many of us, especially our elders.


5. Track race, ethnicity, and geographical location of people who are vaccinated.

a. Require providers to enter collected data into the state’s immunization registry. This data

may be used to monitor and adjust strategy to ensure equitable vaccine access in real time.

b. Include a tally of total amount of vaccines allocated to the Latinx community organized by

county and healthcare provider.


It is unacceptable that our state has allowed the hardest-hit community to continue to suffer due to lack of adequate response; our Latinx workforce plays a vital role in the health of the local and state economy. We are losing our jobs, our homes, and our lives. We would like assurances from you that our concerns and recommendations will be addressed.


Governor Inslee, we respectfully recognize that you stated that, “We need our policies and budget to reflect our dedication toward disrupting the harmful systemic cycle of racism and inequity.” This is an opportunity for you to take action and show your leadership. We will be requesting a meeting with you to discuss what has been stated in this letter and to find a better way to address the needs of the Latinx community. We, the undersigned, thank you for your consideration.

I

f you have questions please contact Nina Martinez, Latino Civic Alliance, Board Chair at

nina@latinocivicalliance.org or Angie Hinojos, Centro Cultural Mexicano, Executive Director at angie@centroculturalmexicano.org.


Sincerely,


Latino Civic Alliance

Centro Cultural Mexicano

Pacific NW Regional Council of Carpenters

Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington

Latino Center for Health at UW

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta

Latino Community Fund

Mutual Aid Solidarity of Skagit

Centro Latino

Consejo Counseling

Community Health Worker Coalition for Migrants and Refugees

La Casa Hogar

Clark County Latino Youth Leadership Organization

Community to Community

Wenatchee Immigrant and Latinx Solidarity Group

Casa Latina

Latino Advocacy

Central Washington Justice for Our Neighbors

Iglesias Episcopales de la Resurrección y St. Pauls

CIELO

Vine Brazilian Community Services

Church Council of Greater Seattle

SWWA League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Strengthening Sanctuary Alliance

The Rev. Josefina Beecher, The Episcopal Church Skagit

Seattle Immigrant Rights Action Group

Wallingford Indivisible

Latinx Unidos of the South Sound (LUSS), Tacoma

The Rt. Rev. Gregory Rickel, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia

The Giving Hope Project

Nuestra Casa

Trabajadores Unidos por la Justicia

Circles of Color

Hispanic Disability Support SWWA (Pasitos Gigantes)

Rev. Jerry Shigaki

Skagit Immigrant Rights Council

Fourth Plain Forward, SW WA

Skagit County Democrats

Parque Padrinos

CC: Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig CC: Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins

Senate Caucus Chair Bob Hasegawa House Democratic Caucus Chair Lillian Ortiz-Self

Senator Rebecca Saldaña Representative Javier Valdez

Representative Bill Ramos

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