Katharine McLaughlin Share Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives and deepen health and economic inequities across the country, local governments can now access a powerful new tool to support an equitable response and recovery. The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII)—the coalition of the Bay Area’s local public health departments focused on equity—has just released a powerful new tool to help local governments planning for an equitable COVID-19 recovery process. The COVID-19 Equity Investment Guide leverages the expertise of more than 1,000 Bay Area leaders from public health, government, and community to identify a roadmap for safeguarding the health and economic well-being of everyone who calls the region home. With historic levels of federal and state resources flowing into communities, the new tool is particularly timely. “These investment strategies focus on the fact that we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to have a recovery that gets us back to better than where our communities were before the pandemic,” said Melissa Jones, executive director of BARHII. The guide provides principles for equitable investing, priority investments for local governments, and local examples. It identifies ten major investment priorities, focused on government infrastructure, community engagement, essential worker health, community-based mental health, economic empowerment and housing stability. It calls for measures that focus on communities most impacted by inequities—especially Black, Latinx, and Pacific Islander populations. “It’s crucial that we figure out ways for this money to do more than reinforce our current systems. Supporting BIPOC communities to chart their own course will be very powerful,” Jones said. Ensuring that government systems invest in equity leadership is also critical. “There are issues that have been true for so long that we no longer see them, such as racial disparities in high school graduation rates and homeownership,” Jones said. “These aren’t naturally occurring issues. There are government policies that have created these inequities,” Jones said. “To have an equity officer to catalyze changes on these inequities is really important,” Jones said. Though BARHII may be based in the Bay Area, anyone can use this guide to help support their efforts. “We encourage local government officials to use this tool to drive funding to the communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and pre-existing inequities,” Jones said. “We also consider this a two-way street. We’re always interested in applying lessons learned from across the country here at home.” To learn more and download the guide, click here.