A healthcare worker administers a test for COVID-19.

GARDEN GROVE – Orange County is home to the nation’s third-largest Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities (AAPI) who are facing barriers to getting COVID-19 information and accessing testing.

The AAPI population makes up more than 20 percent of the county’s population and OC Health Care Agency’s data-driven approach utilizing test positivity and death rates has led to a partnership with the OC AAPI COVID-19 Taskforce to ensure that outreach, education, referral, and testing efforts reach the best health outcomes.

Orange County Health Care Agency has contracted with the OC AAPI COVID-19 Taskforce to decrease the barriers to testing. Together, they are launching the API Testing Strike Team with testing locations county-wide offering testing three times a week through Dec. 31. A calendar is available on the taskforce’s website: www.apitaskforce.org

This partnership offers increased in-language education and support, resource referral and linkages, testing navigation, testing follow-up and support, and support for necessary resources. The OC AAPI COVID-19 Taskforce includes:, Korean Community Services, Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center, Hope Community Services, Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, Pacific Islander Health Partnership, South Asian Network, Southland Integrated Services, The Cambodian Family, and Vietnamese American Cancer Foundation.

“The data is showing that the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Orange County are greatly affected by COVID-19, yet not testing as much due to language and access barriers,” states Ellen Ahn, executive director of Korean Community Services, who is leading the Testing and Navigation efforts of the OC AAPI COVID-19 Taskforce. “By organizing testing in Asian and Pacific Islander languages and at convenient sites, we’ll be able to help remove some of the barriers.”

Pacific Islanders have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. “It has been crucial to make sure that the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community is included in these efforts,” states Audrey Kawaiopua Alo, president of Pacific Islander Health Partnership. “Although our community is smaller in number, our case and death rates per 100K are highest in the county. Having a testing site specifically designated to our community assigns ownership and responsibility to get tested to the community themselves. We are doing our part to make it easier for them to come and get tested.”

The OC AAPI COVID-19 Taskforce is urging AAPI communities to get tested and obtain needed information about staying safe, accessing care, and linking to resources. It is vital to ensuring that the economy opens back up safely and families go back to work and school.

For more information on the OC API COVID-19 Taskforce, visit www.apitaskforce.org and @APITaskforce on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Contact atulua@ocapica.org for further inquiries.

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