Launched on July 14, the digital tool—developed in partnership with the Orange County board of supervisors, Orange County Health Care Agency, and Advance Orange County—was funded as part of a $22.89 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The bulk of that funding will be spent on targeted community support, while another 18 percent will go toward infrastructure to support population health and equity, the county stated.
The grant was part of a national initiative to address health disparities due to COVID-19 among high risk and underserved communities.
“Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a broader conversation about the idea of equity and the health and wellbeing of our county to the forefront,” Supervisor Doug Chaffee told The Epoch Times. “The interactive platform provides a simple way for us and the public to investigate disparities at the county, city, and neighborhood levels in an easy-to-understand format.”
Officials behind the initiative said the map provides insight into neighborhoods in the county that experience health and social disparities. To better understand which communities need the most support, the social progress index (SPI) is used to show 50 social indicators that portray environmental variables, the county stated.
The variables contribute to a community’s social progress, including eviction rates, voter turnout, and diabetes prevalence, and allow for the county to track and assess inequalities, the county stated.
Chaffee and Supervisor Andrew Do, who are on the COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Ad-Hoc committee, in May 2020 asked the Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) to assist in building the equity map.
The board of supervisors approved the contract in July 2020 with Advance Orange County, prior to applying for the grant and being awarded it in June.
Chaffee said the data used to create the map was made available by various government agencies.
The interactive map allows for population demographics, such as race, age, poverty rate, and foreign-born statistics to be shown. Health conditions and resources by population are also available for display by city.
Other information shown includes crime rates, internet accessibility, socio-emotional vulnerability, levels of education, and wage gaps.
The HCA is using the tool to identify communities that need assistance with related to COVID-19, including vaccine distribution and testing.