We wore masks, got vaccinated, tested when necessary and did our part to get our community back to some resemblance of normal. While COVID-19 is not eradicated, it is now part of our daily lives and will likely be here for the next 5 to 10 years.
The pandemic was probably the first time that many residents heard of Contra Costa Health (CCH), as the department quickly went into action to help protect our most vulnerable residents, support local nonprofits with personal protective equipment, provide PCR testing across the county and develop a plan to make the vaccine accessible to as many residents as they could.
Contra Costa Health is a unique department that runs the county’s public health department, maintains the public hospital, has a county health plan (Contra Costa Health Plan, CCHP) and is a Medi-Cal provider. This means the department can develop strategies with direct feedback from those implementing the work.
During the height of the pandemic, CCH focused on its role as a public health department and served residents in the county regardless of their insurance status. This allowed CCH to offer testing across the county, distribute 3 million vaccines, provide thousands of PCR testing and self-testing kits, and prescribe COVID-19 treatments for those testing positive.
The department’s hard work was highlighted when Contra Costa County was recognized as having the second-lowest rate of COVID-19 deaths among large counties in the country.
Now that the emergency orders have expired, the county-run vaccination sites will close on March 31 and CCH will return its focus to serving CCHP members, Medi-Cal recipients and uninsured residents. CCH will provide no-cost testing at our 10 County Health Centers, a 24/7 advice nurse, vaccinations, immunizations and treatments for COVID-19.
A key goal of the CCH COVID-19 winddown plan is to ensure that those without insurance continue to have the same access to services as is granted to insured individuals.
CCH’s Equity Mobile Team will continue to partner with community-based organizations to hold pop-up clinics in areas with hard-to-reach residents. These pop-ups are an important part of CCH’s commitment to equity in care.
All Contra Costa County residents, regardless of affiliation with CCH, can request free at-home testing kits online at bit.ly/home-tests, by calling 833-829-2626 or by visiting a CCH health center or your local library. Vaccinations and boosters are available through your local pharmacy, or you may contact your health-care provider.
I know the pandemic has been a very trying time. As we move into this new phase of normalcy, I hope COVID-19 becomes less of a factor in our daily lives and continues to be treatable.
For more information on Contra Costa County’s COVID-19 response or to locate a County Health Center, visit www.coronavirus.cchealth.org/ or call 1-833-829-2626.
Ken Carlson is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Carlson at SupervisorCarlson@bos.cccounty.us or call his office at 925-655-2350.