GUEST WORDS-The COVID-19 pandemic is different from anything most communities and the business community have ever faced—and yet, in many ways, it’s also a more extreme version of the same challenges we confront every day, the need to reach the more vulnerable communities across Los Angeles County.
During the past month, as schools and businesses were closed, travel and large events were cancelled, the COVID-19 Los Angeles County Response Fund was launched by the California Community Foundation (CCF) to address the immediate and emerging needs of our region’s most vulnerable neighbors—from mitigation to eventual recovery.
The fund is supporting community needs in the Los Angeles area identified by CCF’s partners in health, housing, education and immigration, and will aid impacted individuals through hardship assistance. The cadre of organizations stepping up to provide much-needed resources comes at a critical time for on-the-ground action.
United Health Foundation for example, is providing $1 million for urgent support to help ensure clinics can respond to increased demand for care and assist homeless and low-income residents in Los Angeles County. This donation is part of UnitedHealth Group’s initial $60 million pledge to fight COVID-19, and support those directly impacted by the pandemic.
Reaching at-risk populations in Los Angeles County, many times the most vulnerable in society, takes commitment, resources and a dedicated team of first-responders to provide urgent care. This is of utmost importance, as many may not have access to basic information regarding sheltering in place, social distancing, testing, or how to get the care they need.
Whether homeless individuals exposed to the virus or sick and in need of medical attention, the fund is working in tandem across Los Angeles with housing providers and shelter operators to respond to the increased demand for emergency services for the county’s homeless population.
To truly support our communities, immediate resources and help were needed from strong community partners like United Health Foundation who care deeply, to not only reach at-risk populations, but also deliver services, information and medical care to better address the needs of people and start to rebuild the Southland.
All of us understand that there is a long road ahead, from hardship relief to long-term recovery. But we are seeing the best from within our communities shining through during these times of uncertainty. Our community will come back and business will return, but only if we only if we reach out to the most vulnerable across Los Angeles.
(Antonia Hernandez, president and chief executive officer, California Community Foundation and Amar Desai, M.D., M.P.H., president and chief executive officer, Optum California.)