COVID-19, Asthma and Equity: RAMP’s Response

COVID-19 has had tremendous impacts on millions of individuals, families and communities. It has also significantly affected the work of asthma stakeholders, including RAMP.

As we continue to work toward our mission of reducing the burden of asthma with a focus on equity, we want to share what we’re doing to help keep communities healthy in light of the pandemic.

For an overview of the COVID-19, asthma and equity, as well as emerging research findings, click here.

Virtual asthma home visits

Across California and the nation, the COVID pandemic pushed asthma home visiting programs to move to a largely virtual approach. Even as some in-person visits begin again, many asthma home visiting programs have decided to incorporate virtual visits into their program models given some of the flexibilities and other benefits provided by virtual approaches.

RAMP is currently partnering with the National Center for Healthy Housing to develop an eLearning module on virtual asthma home visits. The module will help viewers understand the benefits of virtual visits, identity best practices for incorporating them into asthma home visiting programs, and access sample tools and resources. We anticipate releasing the module later in 2022. We’ll post a link here, so please check back!.

Additionally, other resources are available to help asthma home visiting programs think through virtual visits.

RAMP webinar
On April 3, 2020, RAMP hosted a webinar, Virtual Asthma Home Visits, to learn more about virtual asthma home visits, share resources, and try to solve challenges related to implementation. The webinar featured Nikita Kachroo, AE-C, from Children’s National Hospital. Before the coronavirus outbreak, Nikita and her colleagues were already implementing a virtual asthma home visiting program. On the webinar she shared lessons learned and challenges from her program. Other participants also shared resources and advice from their own work, and RAMP staff provided a brief update about what we’re learning about the implications of COVID-19 on people with asthma. The webinar recording is available, as are the presentation slides and a wide range of other virtual home visiting resources from Children’s National Hospital. See here for more details.

California Breathing webinar
On June 4, 2020, the Asthma Management Academy, run by California Breathing, the state’s asthma program, hosted a webinar featuring presenters from four organizations with asthma home visiting programs. The presenters shared how community health workers are providing home visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, how these programs support their clients remotely, and their implementation successes and challenges with virtual home visits. The webinar recording here.

Asthma Mitigation Project panel presentation
On November 18, 2020, the Asthma Mitigation Project hosted a convening that featured a panel presentation on virtual asthma home visits. The discussion begins at the one hour, twenty five minute mark of this video, and features staff from Asthma Start at the Alameda County Public Health Department, the Central California Asthma Collaborative, Comite Civico del Valle, and Esperanza Community Housing, Inc.

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Stronger tenant protections

Tenant protections are a core part of RAMP’s work to promote stable and healthy housing, and the COVID pandemic has only reinforced the importance of such protections. As the outbreak expanded, we were proud to support a call for a statewide moratorium on rent increases and evictions to ensure people did not lose their housing while out of work. Additionally, we helped the asthma community stay informed on the changing policy landscape by partnering with Health Leads’ Bay Area Healthcare for Healthy Communities Learning Initiative and Western Center on Law and Poverty to host a presentation outlining many of the emergency tenant protections put in place during the height of the pandemic. While those emergency tenant protections have now expired, RAMP continues its work to support healthy housing, including clean indoor air, tenant protections, and housing affordability. See our strategic plan to learn more.

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Protective air quality regulations

We remain committed to protecting the public’s health and promoting equity by reducing air pollution, particularly in overburdened low-income communities and communities of color. This commitment is as strong as ever given the clear connections between air pollution and poorer COVID-19 outcomes. Early in the pandemic, we joined other public health and environmental justice organizations in asking California’s Governor and legislature, as well as the California Air Resources Board (CARB), to oppose any rollbacks or delays in health-protective air quality regulations. We also continue to push CARB for strong air quality regulations from multiple pollution sources.

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Promoting safer cleaning products

As mentioned above, reducing exposure to environmental asthma triggers is also an important piece of asthma management – including taking extra precautions as people increase the use of cleaning products in hopes of preventing new COVID-19 infections. While our understanding of COVID has evolved and surface contamination is not as much of a concern as it once was, it’s still important to use asthma-friendlier approaches when cleaning and disinfecting. Here are a few examples:

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