Incorporating Health Equity Into COVID-19 Reopening Plans: Policy Experimentation in California

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Sturm College of Law


Public health equity, Blueprint for a Safer Economy, California Healthy Places Index, HPI


California has focused on health equity in the state's COVID-19 reopening plan. The Blueprint for a Safer Economy assigns each of California's 58 counties into 1 of 4 tiers based on 2 metrics: test positivity rate and adjusted case rate. To advance to the next less-restrictive tier, counties must meet that tier's test positivity and adjusted case rate thresholds. In addition, counties must have a plan for targeted investments within disadvantaged communities, and counties with more than 106 000 residents must meet an equity metric. California's explicit incorporation of health equity into its reopening plan underscores the interrelated fate of its residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and creates incentives for action. This article evaluates the benefits and challenges of this novel health equity focus, and outlines recommendations for other US states to address disparities in their reopening plans.