Kern County, Calif. – The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted to reject retroactive contracts with Building Healthy Communities Kern and Adelante Strategies, canceling critical COVID-19 outreach to vulnerable communities and crippling the county’s efforts to open completely and safely.

“We are in the middle of a deadly pandemic and now more than ever, people need and deserve access to all the resources they can receive,” said Reyna Olaguez, president and CEO of Adelante Strategies. “Our organization, along with Building Healthy Communities Kern and many others, depends on funding to empower residents to help them create healthier neighborhoods. This decision by the Board of Supervisors threatens our community and will cost the lives of Kern residents among other dangerous consequences.”

Despite this unexpected decision, we remain committed to improving and saving the lives of our most marginalized residents living in the communities where Building Healthy Communities organizations have had a presence for decades and the trusted relationships needed to successfully carry out this life-saving initiative. 

Furthermore, the organizations were ready to execute a robust multi-approach campaign: dozens of outreach workers had been trained, the campaign creatives were already completed. We are the organizations the Kern County Public Health Director, the County Ag Commissioner, and other agencies have turned to in order to respond to this deadly pandemic and help the county meet the state metrics to allow Kern to reopen. 

“We request that the board of supervisors be objective and reconsider today’s decision and think about the people that they are elected to serve,” said Camila Chavez of Building Healthy Communities Kern.

In response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police, the organizations, along with hundreds of other social justice advocates across the nation, shared social media posts in June and July calling for defunding law enforcement. The board cited this as the reason to cancel contracts that would have helped Adelante and Building Healthy Communities Kern work with the health department to provide information to residents to slow the spread of COVID-19 and enable the county to meet the state’s new metrics for opening completely.