RICHMOND, Va. (WDVM) — Nationwide, the COVID-19 pandemic created more health inequities, leading health departments with no choice but to create plans to help disproportionally affected populations.
Three months ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would invest $2.25 billion into health department programs across the country to address health disparities related to COVID-19.
The CDC awarded the Virginia Department of Health $30.6 million to distribute funds to communities hardest hit by the disease.
WDVM spoke to Sable K Dyer, VDH’s director of the Office of Health Equity to learn more about the communities most impacted.
“We know that BIPOC communities, those are black, indigenous, people of color, those individuals have held the disproportionate burden of the disease,” said Dyer.
Additionally, individuals residing in rural communities, prison facilities and assisted care homes were also negatively impacted by COVID-19.
VDH said it began planning for the funds in March, creating a working plan to distribute funds to organizations across the Commonwealth.
“We are funneling the majority of the funds directly into our local health districts as well as we have a variety of mini-grant programs that we have developed,” explained Dyer.
The CDC’s goals for the grant include increasing testing and contact tracing among underserved populations and those at higher risk, and to improve capacity and services to prevent and control COVID-19 infection among those populations.
VDH is still in the beginning steps of planning, but it has already developed a COVID-19 equity funding committee to ensure community needs are addressed.
Dyer said the grant provides resources to help build infrastructure to best serve the Commonwealth and promote the health and well being of its residents.