Protecting our Community
As an alderman Cara was among the first to warn the public about gathering in groups, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing when the St. Louis region detected its first cases of COVID-19 in mid-March. She spoke out even before she was appointed chair of the Health and Human Services Committee of the Board of Alderman in early summer.
With the onset of virus cases, Cara became very active in the efforts to protect all St. Louisans, with a focus on the most vulnerable. Working with the Continuum of Care Coalition, she helped pressure the city to meet the needs of the unhoused when the city failed to meet basic CDC guidelines. She met with members of the city Health Board to advocate for a regional approach to providing services to unhoused residents, noting the free flow of residents without homes between the city and St. Louis County.
Working with private businesses and organizations — Bespoke, Wellmade Workshop, and the Chinese Education and Culture Center – Cara organized the distribution of masks for people experiencing homelessness. And for several weeks she and her son made hundreds of bag lunches for people without access to regular meals – helping to fill in where the city was failing.
Cara also fought to keep St. Alexius Hospital operational during bankruptcy proceedings. It is one of the few health care providers easily accessible to residents of the 20th Ward.
Once Cara became chair of the Health Committee and before the board went on summer break she organized a hearing on contact tracing, one of the most effective means of preventing the spread of the virus. Local governments throughout the country had hired tracers to contact people who contracted the virus, or their families, to find out who they might have exposed in order to warn those people of their potential risk and advise them on getting tested, quarantining, and practicing safe behavior like wearing a mask and social distancing.
According to national standards, the number of tracers St. Louis hired fell far below the number need to do an adequate job. As a result of Cara and her committee elevating the issue of tracing to a public discussion, the city did hire more tracers. But it could still use more as the virus has yet to subside to a safer level.
Cara’s committee also held a hearing on the update of the St. Louis Racial Equity Indicators Report. Click here to read more about that meeting.