Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas distributing PPE resources to locals in Ralph’s Grocery Store. Courtesy Photo by Ridley-Thomas Administration

Due to the disproportionate effects of COVID-19, the need for assistance in Los Angeles has taken over certain communities. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas answered the call for help; in the past several weeks, he’s been traveling and delivering PPE to essential workers within his district.

Ten-thousand masks are to be distributed throughout the second district and recently, there was a pop-up distribution event at a Ralph’s grocery store in South Los Angeles. Ridley-Thomas explained the tone he is trying to set with these actions. There is no room to ignore the health concern and it will take the community to protect each other.

Coasting across the Second District, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas distributed PPE to essential workers in highly impacted areas of the community. He delivered preventative health equipment alongside Servicon Systems Chairman Michael Mahdesian and Founder of Mujeres De La Tierra, Irma Muñoz. Recently, the caravan of care found themselves in front of the Ralph’s grocery store on Obama Blvd.

Los Angeles has reached over 200,000 positive cases, there has been an overbearing weight on Black and Brown communities. It’s due to the significant incline in positivity rates, transmission, and fatal cases within underserved communities. The spike in July created a colossal transmission and increase in severity within the LatinX community. Workers within the essential industry stressed their concern of the lack of PPE supply.

Courtesy photo by Ridley-Thomas Administration

According to the Director of the Los Angeles Public Health Department Dr. Barbara Ferrer, communities of color have seen more disproportionate rates in their cases of severity. Studies issued by the public health department have shown a number of reports, hospitalizations, and mortality rates that are highest in the LatinX community. Accumulatively, the rates that were captured since the health department began the investigation reflected a spike in July; taking a drastic toll on people of color.

Black and Brown residents are most likely to have been working in essential industries with little prevention of spread. COVID-19 has widened the health inequalities for Black, LatinX, and low-income residents. Various tests show people within communities of color are twice as likely to die of coronavirus (UCLA COVID-19 study). Ridley-Thomas has created an impetus to confront the imbalance.

In the peak of the summer heat, one could find Supervisor Ridley-Thomas with rolled up sleeves and passing out bags filled with masks and other essential protective gear to prevent spread of COVID-19.

The tent banner read “Team Mark Ridley-Thomas,” setting the tone for comradery. The energy of the event encapsulated the solution to racially-charged imbalances with everyone-helping-everyone.

Ridley-Thomas explained the intentions of the distribution, “I’m communicating that non-profits, for-profits, public sector, the private sector have to work together in order to address the COVID-19 crisis.”

He continued,” This pandemic is no joke, we got to wear a mask. So, we are here to distribute 10,000 masks in various parts of the district that I represent.”

Volunteers and residents moved spaciously around the tent exchanging laughter and small conversations. Welcoming music in the background blanketed the event with the fabric that this community is woven together as one.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas spoke directly with local residents and made his way into the Ralphs store, passing out more PPE bags to workers who were facing the dangers of COVID-19 in rea- time.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas commencing the pop-up distribution event. Photo by Betti Halsell

Masks have been in high demand and scarce throughout this pandemic; with majority of the supply reserved to medical centers and first responders. Jobs within underserved communities are left with even fewer preventative resources, leaving them exposed to the risk of community transmission.

Ridley-Thomas acknowledged the vulnerability that communities of color are experiencing, COVID-19 created tremors that could engulf an underserved neighborhood. Ridley-Thomas has shown through traveling through his district to pass out the necessary medical resources, the level of work that needs to be done.

Those within highly impacted areas that did not have proper medical resources felt it the most. Local government and the county health department have seen and acknowledged that there are disproportionate rates within certain ethnicities. The lack of masks and medical resources, increased community transmission, and high chance of a fatal outcome has revealed a problem within the balance of what is considered equal in this country.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas kept the team and the locals laughing and shared a common place of compassion throughout the event. Through his actions he demonstrated that this is the best time to exercise humility and understanding. There is a new air of connection between neighbors, a fresh perspective that the community must look out for the community in order to see a better tomorrow, together.