The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors this week greenlit the creation of a new, comprehensive assessment of the health of the Latino/Hispanic community in the county, something that hasn't been done in over 10 years.
According to the county, Latino residents have been disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supervisor Sylvia Arenas was behind the call for a new assessment.
"Santa Clara County's Latino community has faced disproportionate exposure to crisis after crisis, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the housing crisis, and beyond," Arenas said in a statement released by the county Tuesday. "This health assessment will give our community and policy makers the information and more importantly the policy recommendations they need to take real and sustained action to correct the disparity."
The new assessment will be undertaken by the county Public Health Department and be compiled through community engagement and comprehensive data collection and analysis. A report on the findings is due back to the Board of Supervisors in the spring of 2024.
Back in 2012, the county produced a report entitled Status of Latino/Hispanic Health, a comprehensive look at the health of its Latino/Hispanic residents, which then made up 27 percent of the county's population, according to the report.
The report estimated that by 2050, 4 of every 10 county residents will be Latino/Hispanic.
The 2012 report was mainly focused on findings rather than solutions, so in addition to gathering new data, the new assessment will include recommendations and "calls to action," according to the county.
"These recommendations should provide opportunities for policy makers to correctly align future investments to dramatically improve the health of the Latino community in our county," reads the county's summary given to the Board of Supervisors.
Some key findings from the 2012 report showed that Latino and Hispanic residents had less education, lower incomes and higher unemployment rates than whites or Asians in Santa Clara County. They were also more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to live in overcrowded or severely overcrowded households, spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent or a mortgage.
Health findings in the 2012 report found that Latino and Hispanic residents were more likely than some other racial/ethnic groups to be overweight or obese, have diabetes, have lower levels of activity and poorer nutrition, have higher rates of teen births and were more likely to experience some type of injury and violence more than some other racial/ethnic groups.
The report did find some health advantages that the Latino/Hispanic community had, such as a longer life expectancy than whites or African Americans, lower rates of cancer, and half the blood pressure rate of whites and African Americans.
For the new assessment, the Public Health Department is asked to review data covering COVID-19, chronic illnesses, gender-based violence, and environmental health factors such as exposure to pesticides, lead and other chemicals. Data should also be collected about access to health insurance and care, behavioral health care, health factors related to substandard housing or homelessness, access to reproductive health, and nutrition, the county said.