National Alliance for Filipino Concerns Hosts Virtual Town Hall for Local Health Care Workers

by Ronnie Estoque

On Monday, Feb. 15, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Kabataan Alliance, and the Filipino Health Board led a virtual town hall via Zoom to discuss ways in which the community in Seattle can rally together in support of health care workers that are on the front lines of the pandemic. The event was a part of nationwide virtual town halls organized by NAFCON to discuss the Filipino American Agenda, which is a comprehensive list of demands that will be presented to the Biden administration this spring.

“During this time we really want to support our Filipino health care workers,” said Nadine Guyo, a NAFCON WA representative, Filipino Health Board member, and mental health counselor. “We’ve also witnessed a growing awakening of a lot of activism among Filipino youth and students as a response to racial justice issues here in the U.S. and issues in the Philippines.”

Nearly one-third of U.S. nurses who have died from COVID-19 are Filipino even though they make up just 4% of the nation’s total nursing population, according to a report from National Nurses United, the largest nurses’ union in the country. The Filipino American Agenda has demands that focus largely on workers’ rights and economic justice during the pandemic. This includes the implementation of hazard pay for all essential and health care workers, adequate staff and a safe workload for healthcare workers, an increase in federal funding for health care and ensuring timely access to COVID-19 vaccines, as well as other demands

Vicky Navarro is an independent contractor with Public Health — Seattle and King County as a community navigator for Filipinos living in South King County and is responsible for outreach and education around COVID-19 vaccinations and availability. She attended the virtual town hall to connect with more Filipino community members living in the Seattle area.

“I have partnered with Filipino organizations to help distribute information packets about COVID-19, and I also partner with food distributions to outreach and educate,” Navarro said. “They [King County] already know some of the concerns that are happening in our community from transportation, technology, appointments, and education on the vaccine.”

Equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be difficult. On Feb. 11, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released a new data report showing low percentages of Hispanic, Black, and Multiracial people have received the COVID-19 vaccine when compared to those groups’ proportion of the state population.

 Click for larger image. (Source: COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage by Race and Ethnicity and Age in Washington State by Washington State Department of Health, February 10, 2021)

“As of December 31, a lot of the funding has depleted, we’re working with other organizations trying to find the resources for these families,” Navarro said regarding Filipino families she’s been in contact with that need rent assistance during this challenging economic period.

Currently, NAFCON’S Filipino American Agenda is also calling for the implementation of rent cancellation and imposition of a moratorium on all evictions until the pandemic is declared over. The next virtual town hall will be this Saturday, Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. and will be hosted by the Northwest Filipino American Student Alliance (NWFASA). Community members interested in registering for the online event can register on the NWFASA registration portal.

Featured Image: An anonymous Filipino nurse at Overlake Medical Center shares her experience on working during the pandemic; they also serve as an officer for the Washington State Nurses Association. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)

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