The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on March 17 announced a plan to invest $2.25 billion over two years to address COVID-related health disparities and advance health equity among populations that are at high-risk and underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural areas. This funding represents CDC’s largest investment to date to support communities affected by COVID-19-related health disparities.
CDC’s new National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved Communities, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities, will offer grants to public health departments to improve testing and contact tracing capabilities; develop innovative mitigation and prevention resources and services; improve data collection and reporting; build, leverage, and expand infrastructure support; and mobilize partners and collaborators to advance health equity and address social determinants of health as they relate to COVID-19.
This initiative is funded through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, (P.L. 116-260) and is expected to award funding to up to 108 state, local, territorial, and freely associated state health departments, or their bona fide agents. The CDC will be accepting applications for this initiative through April 30, 2021.
“Everyone in America should have equal opportunity to be as healthy as possible,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH. “This investment will be monumental in anchoring equity at the center of our nation’s COVID-19 response—and is a key step forward in bringing resources and focus to health inequities that have for far too long persisted in our country.”
Data show that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected some populations and placed them at higher risk, including those who are medically underserved, racial and ethnic minority groups, and people living in rural communities. These groups may experience higher risk of exposure, infection, hospitalization, and mortality. In addition, evidence shows that racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities have disproportionate rates of chronic diseases that can increase the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 and may also encounter barriers to testing, treatment, or vaccination.
To stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and move toward greater health equity, the CDC continues to work with populations at higher risk, underserved, and disproportionately affected to ensure resources are available to maintain and manage physical and mental health, including easy access to information, affordable testing, and medical and mental health care.