By Adam Pagnucco.
Council Members Nancy Navarro and Gabe Albornoz have issued statements on Facebook regarding County Executive Marc Elrich’s hot mic joke about the council being “fact proof” while he was discussing Latino COVID-19 infection rates.
Navarro went first with the following.
Wow! This is no laughing matter. These are not just numbers, these are people. The fact is that this pandemic has disproportionately affected our Black and Latino community. At this moment we know that the Latino community is particularly disproportionally affected, they admit this in this video. Some of us have been working around the clock from the early days of this pandemic, pointing this out and offering solutions that have not been implemented by this administration. I take issue with the cavalier attitude and the disrespectful manner in which the Council and this community is addressed in these comments. Ya basta! Que vergüenza!
Editor’s note: Ya basta roughly translates as “enough is enough.” Que vergüenza roughly translates as “what a disgrace” or “what a shame.”
This is Albornoz’s statement.
I did not find the County Executive’s comments on this video funny or amusing. In fact, I found them deeply troubling and the reaction of his senior officials disappointing. It’s also disappointing that the County Executive does not have a better understanding or command of this situation.
These are the facts:
• Over 70% of positive test cases in the month of July are Hispanic, continuing a trend upward, when all other demographics of test positive cases are trending down.
• The community and the Council did not see a comprehensive written testing plan until July 13, more than five months after our first test positive case in our County.
• The rapid response teams that were intended to support communities in high impacted zip codes and sectors were disbanded weeks ago and have not been replaced.
• There has not been a comprehensive plan to address the outrageous disparity in positive test cases in the Hispanic community articulated. Worse, there appears to be no urgency to address it. Worst still, based on this video a clear disinterest and condescending attitude.
• The phone number to secure a test in Montgomery County was down for several days last week. That number has been recently overwhelmed with residents leaving repeated messages with no call back.
• We lack a sufficient number of bi-lingual and Spanish speaking operators and contact tracers.
• Our community clinics have not been sufficiently accessed as a resource and activated in communities. The Mary’s Center has repeatedly offered to help to enhance reach in the Hispanic community. Those offers have fallen on deaf ears.
There is no question that we have made progress since the beginning of this pandemic and we are in a much better position than we were before. There is also no question that our public health officials are working hard to address these issues. That being said, these numbers are alarming and must be taken more seriously than it appears this administration is taking them. It is morally imperative that we support our most vulnerable communities, it’s also a public health imperative that we contain the virus in all communities.
I am proud to be working with Councilmember Nancy Navarro and key stakeholders in the community to develop and execute a plan that is desperately needed in the Hispanic community at this moment. I am also proud to have worked with Councilmember Hans Reimer and all of my colleagues to introduce a resolution as the Board of Health to establish key testing bench marks.
I worked for a high functioning Executive branch and a fully engaged County Executive so I know what it looks like. It does not look like the lack of leadership we see in this video.