Health Care

Biden admin investing additional $785M in COVID-19 funding for hardest hit communities

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The Biden administration will invest $785 million to help stop the spread of the coronavirus in some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations by building confidence in vaccines and helping to establish a more diverse public health workforce, officials announced Wednesday.

The influx of money will be focused on communities of color, rural areas, people with disabilities and low income populations.

“Funds will support community-based organizations that are continuing to build vaccine confidence across communities of color, rural areas and low income populations. The funds will support tribal communities leading the way in mitigating the spread of the virus, and also protect individuals with disabilities from infection and the ramifications of the pandemic,” Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, said during a briefing.

The funding will help build the pipeline of public health workers in the most underserved communities. The Indian Health Service will have funding set aside to hire more school nurses, and community-based organizations will have more resources to help address barriers to getting vaccinated in underserved communities. 

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said the additional funding is a direct response to the task force’s recommendations to help eradicate health disparities and support underserved communities.

The task force delivered a final report on Wednesday, and more than 80 percent of its recommendations have been implemented, Nunez-Smith said.

She added that the additional money will build on the billions of dollars already invested in equity-focused programs by the administration ​​to protect the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities. 

“Health equity is mission critical for the Biden-Harris administration,” Nunez-Smith said. “There’s no credible path to a new normal without it.”

The White House has aimed to try to close the gap in how different populations have been impacted by the pandemic, particularly with vaccinations, and Nunez-Smith and Zients said the efforts have been successful.

“The most recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey showed that 73 percent of Black adults, 72 percent of white adults, and 70 percent of Hispanic adults had gotten at least their first shot by mid October,” Zients said. “Now we have more work to do, but this is significant progress we can build on.”

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccines health disparities Jeff Zients Marcella Nunez-Smith

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