Equity Council Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire The COVID-19 Equity Council is an advisory council that was created to ensure that State’s emergency response and recovery strategies address the specific needs of the communities most impacted by the pandemic. These communities include communities of color, high density areas and low-income neighborhoods. The Equity Council was coordinated by EOHHS from April 2020 until July 2021, at which point it was transitioned to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. Mission The Equity Council aims to actively shape the State’s COVID-19 response to effectively serve the populations most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including communities of color and high-density communities, in tangible ways. The Council also highlights the importance of equity considerations in all State operations, both in response to the current pandemic and beyond. Vision It is the Equity Council's vision that we not only recover from the current pandemic but work together to fight systemic racism and injustice. The Equity Council is key to establishing lasting connections between underrepresented communities and State agencies. Membership The Equity Council consists of a diverse mix of community leaders of color, elected officials and State staff committed to the work that leads to meaningful action and change. Community leaders include non-profit staff, faith community leaders and doctors from high-density areas. History The Latino Advisory Group was established in April 2020, as a response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Latino community. In May 2020, the increase in COVID-19 cases in many of Rhode Island’s communities of color and the murder of George Floyd further highlighted racial inequities. As a result, the focus and membership of the group was expanded to include representatives from all underrepresented communities, forming the existing Equity Council. Focus Areas The Equity Council’s focus is to address the most urgent needs of underrepresented communities in Rhode Island. Equity council members have worked on: Improving access to basic health & safety resources Providing access to culturally relevant services and programs Ensuring communities of color are reached through culturally competent State communications Ensuring equitable COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, data, and vaccination strategies Ensuring the representation of communities and leaders of color in State decisions Highlighting equity as a necessary component of the State’s COVID-19 response Meeting Minutes The Equity Council meets twice a month. The Council previously met once a week. 2020 Agenda from May 22, 2020 meeting Agenda from May 29, 2020 meeting Agenda from June 12, 2020 meeting Agenda from June 19, 2020 meeting Agenda from June 26, 2020 meeting Agenda from July 1, 2020 meeting Agenda from July 8, 2020 meeting Agenda from July 15, 2020 meeting Agenda from July 22, 2020 meeting Agenda from July 29, 2020 meeting Agenda from August 5, 2020 meeting Agenda from August 12, 2020 meeting Agenda from August 19, 2020 meeting Agenda from August 26, 2020 meeting Agenda from September 2, 2020 meeting Agenda from September 9, 2020 meeting Agenda from September 16, 2020 meeting Agenda from September 23, 2020 meeting Agenda from September 30, 2020 meeting Agenda from October 7, 2020 meeting Agenda from October 14, 2020 meeting Agenda from October 21, 2020 meeting Agenda from October 28, 2020 meeting Agenda from November 4, 2020 meeting Agenda from November 18, 2020 meeting Agenda from December 2, 2020 meeting Agenda from December 16, 2020 meeting Equity Council Members: September 8, 2020 Equity Council Progress: September 16, 2020 2021 Agenda from January 13, 2021 meeting Agenda from January 27, 2021 meeting Agenda from February 10, 2021 meeting Agenda from February 24, 2021 meeting Agenda from March 10, 2021 meeting Agenda from March 17, 2021 meeting Agenda from March 24, 2021 meeting Agenda from March 31, 2021 meeting Agenda from April 7, 2021 meeting Agenda from April 14, 2021 meeting Agenda from April 21, 2021 meeting Agenda from May 5, 2021 meeting Agenda from May 19, 2021 meeting Agenda from May 26, 2021 meeting Agenda from June 2, 2021 meeting Agenda from June 16, 2021 meeting Agenda from June 30, 2021 meeting In the Media The State of Rhode Island has been nationally recognized for its efforts to make equitable practices an essential part of its COVID-19 emergency response. Equitable Recovery Strategies (State Health and Value Strategies): “Rhode Island’s recovery plan – Reopening Rhode Island – incorporates equity into its gating requirement goals, including a provision that the state ensures that all communities have access to testing, particularly communities who have been disproportionately impacted. As the state works to address COVID-19 and consider reopening plans, Governor Raimondo has also assembled an Equity Council comprised of state officials, advocacy partners, and health experts.” How the Smallest State Engineered a Big COVID Comeback (Politico): “Well, from the beginning, we’ve had a genuine equity lens across our COVID response. Very early on we had a Latino advisory group, an equity advisory group, and we’ve really been on it in high-density communities, immigrant communities.” Reducing the Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 Among Communities of Color (National Governors Association): “Gina M. Raimondo’s plan for reopening Rhode Island includes six core indicators, including, ‘do we have necessary supports in place for vulnerable populations and for anyone in quarantine?’ The Governor has also established an Equity Council to guide the state’s reopening plan.” Secretary Jones moderates a panel on "Diversity in the Workplace" at the R.I.S.E. Women's Leadership Conference (Video) Secretary Jones joins Johnson & Wales University's Media & Politics Café on The Politics of Pandemics: Communities of Color and Disproportionate Impacts, from HIV/AIDS to the Coronavirus Crisis (Video) What’s in a Name: Starting Wednesday, RI votes will decide fate of the word ‘plantations (The Providence Journal): “Womazetta Jones had been on the job a short time last year as Rhode Island’s secretary of health and human services when she electronically checked to make sure her first paycheck had been properly deposited. There it was in her account, a direct payment from ‘The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations…’ ‘A word that is associated with cruelty and torture, death, rape. I wondered if by receiving those dollars I was condoning that hatred we as a people had experienced.’ In this year’s election, which begins with early voting starting Wednesday, voters will consider what’s in a name. If passed, Question 1 on the ballot would remove “and Providence Plantations” from all official state references.” RI Foundation launches $8.5M Equity Leadership Initiative to tackle racial disparities (ConvergenceRI): “Womazetta Jones was introduced as the new Secretary of the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services on Aug. 22, 2019, at a reception at the Rhode Island Foundation, she said: ‘We have to get comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations about racial equity.’“ Engaging Staff to Be Equity-Minded: A Conversation with Public Sector Leaders (National Association of Medicaid Directors): “I am very blessed to be leading our equity work here in Rhode Island and our equity council, which is made up of all of our communities of color — actual people in the community — not just organized stakeholders. We need to look at how we’re creating that space. I need to push, but I need to have partners with me helping in that journey — individuals of color should lead in this equity space. We need all people in this space as a part of our leadership team.” A new dawn, a new day, a new life at RI EOHHS (ConvergenceRI): “Novais now brings that equity lens to R.I. EOHHS, looking to instill a new strategic, integrated, collective approach to the delivery of services across the umbrella of agencies under the aegis of EOHHS, so that “equity is not just a word or a dream but a reality for all.” Dan Yorke State of Mind with Eli Sherman and Dr. Pablo Rodriguez (WPRI12): Target 12 Investigator, Eli Sherman and Brown University Associate Professor and member of the COVID-19 Vaccine Sub Committee for the RIDOH, Dr. Pablo Rodriguez join Dan Yorke to discuss the vaccine, some of the recent data and complications with the rollout in R.I. Please contact the Office of the Lieutenant Governor with any questions.