Op-Ed

Two women wearing protective masks walking at crosswalk on 16th Street in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Opinion: COVID-19 Shows Us Why California Must Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis

Long-standing racist policies and practices have determined where and how Californians live, work, receive health care, attend schools and more. For Black Californians, Latinx Californians, and other Californians of color these racist policies block opportunities to be healthy.

When the pandemic started, it became abundantly clear that the virus was disproportionately harming communities of color, who are at increased risk of severe illness due to long-standing inequities.

An illustration of Arlene Campa, founder of Art Hour, with fellow students.

Opinion: Arts Education Is a Student Right, Especially During a Pandemic

Arts education has the power to emotionally and academically rebuild students — and the world around us.

I come from an immigrant community, where people routinely shift between English and Spanish in everyday conversation. As the student ambassador to a statewide organization, Create CA, I’m working to ensure every student has access to a full arts education, as promised by California’s Education Code.

A nurse gives a COVID-19 vaccination at The Forum in Los Angeles in January.

Opinion: After COVID-19, Here’s How We Can Make Sure Everyone Can Heal

We are going to need a “healing surge” that will match our vaccine surge — and health equity must guide how we allocate those resources.

We have learned the lesson in this crisis that public health is critical to our individual health — we all do better when we protect those who are most vulnerable. We also understand that mental health is not just an individual condition but a collective challenge in communities that were already stressed by racist policing, economic inequality and deportation threats.

Sad teenager

Opinion: I’m a Doctor. The Kids I’m Seeing Need to Be Back in School

With the ongoing closures of schools, playgrounds, sports and other extracurriculars, children are missing out on large pieces of their development.

I’m seeing a spike in children with anxiety, depression and suicidal ideations in my practice. The current state of children’s mental health is concerning not only for the near future, but also for the long-term effects it may have on this generation and society as a whole.

Dr. Adam Dougherty receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Sutter Medical Center.

Opinion: Vaccines Are Coming. What Can We Do Until Then?

I felt relief as I received my shot. After months of relentless pandemic care on the front line, we have finally received a vital tool in the fight against COVID-19 that will help California return to some normalcy over the coming months.

I trust these vaccines and urge the community to listen to the advice of health experts. When we receive the vaccine, we don’t just do it for ourselves, we do it to protect our loved ones and others who are at higher risk. Getting vaccinated is an act of compassion that will help us to save lives and stop the spread.

Opinion: Communities of Color Are Supposed to Be Getting State Money to Reduce Pollution. Where Is It?

In recent years, CalEPA has more explicitly acknowledged how environmental pollution disproportionately impacts Californians of color. But we are still waiting for decisive action to fix it.

When California passed Senate bill 535 in 2012, it mandated that 25 percent of the proceeds generated from the resulting cap-and-trade program go to projects that benefit communities most impacted by pollution.

Online Consultation with their Doctor

Opinion: As Telehealth Expands, We Must Include Diverse Communities

The rise in telehealth has tremendous potential to improve the health of those who have historically lacked access to medical care. Those living medically underserved areas can use telehealth to more easily connect to specialists and manage conditions from home.

But this rapid deployment of technology has not fully accounted for the needs of Black and indigenous Californians, or other people of color, including those with limited English proficiency or disabilities.

Opinion: What California Must Do for Kids’ Mental Health

Due to systemic inequities, children and teens of color are affected more often when it comes to mental health crises, with Latinos ages 10 through 19 representing nearly 40 percent of the total deaths by suicide among Californians in this age range in 2017.

The simple truth is that California does not have a sustainable, long-term plan to support children and teenager’s mental well-being. We cannot continue to cobble together a broken system that perpetuates inequity. Here are some recommendations.

African American father gave piggyback ride to his little daughter and having a good time together walking around the neighborhood while wearing mask during social distancing and new normal

Opinion: During a Pandemic, We Can’t Lose This Avenue to Health Equity

How can anyone think about taking away health coverage and critical consumer protections at all, let alone during a pandemic?

California fully embraced the Affordable Care Act, which allowed it to expand Medicaid and create Covered California, our state’s health insurance marketplace. As a result, our uninsured rate fell a whopping 53 percent between 2010 and 2015. Over the last 10 years, we have made tremendous gains in California and across the country. Now is not the time to go backward.

Opinion: Health and Equity Are On the Ballot With Prop. 15

Health outcomes, including how long people live and their quality of life, are powerfully influenced by community conditions like the availability of parks and open space, high-quality schools, healthy food, affordable housing, and clean air and water. In fact, what happens in the community environment has a greater impact on health than what happens in the doctor’s office.

Prop. 15 would channel a large amount of money into schools and local services that can improve community conditions.

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