HARTFORD, CT -- As Connecticut leaders work to address the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, specific steps can help ensure that the response reaches as many residents as possible and meets the needs of those who are most vulnerable to the virus. A new policy brief from the Connecticut Health Foundation offers four recommendations for ensuring that the state’s COVID-19 response does not leave anyone behind.
“We have already seen this virus disproportionately affecting people of color, and it is critical that we ensure the response is designed in a way that does not increase the racial and ethnic health disparities that already exist in Connecticut,” said Patricia Baker, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation. “By combining universal strategies with targeted outreach, leaders can ensure that our state has the strongest, most effective possible response to the pandemic.”
The recommendations and specific steps are:
Make testing accessible to those who need it.
- Ensure transportation is available to reach drive-through test sites and publicize its availability.
- Encourage or require test sites to accommodate patients who arrive on foot.
- Prioritize new test sites in accessible locations within neighborhoods, such as community health centers.
- Identify which groups should receive priority for tests and publicize the priorities.
Take advantage of the skills of community health workers.
- Include community health workers in contact tracing work.
- Encourage the use of community health workers to support patients and families. Consider allowing reimbursement through Medicaid.
- Include community health workers in COVID-19 response and recovery planning work.
- Work with community health workers to develop and deliver important messaging about the pandemic, resources, and recovery efforts.
Provide supports for people who need to isolate.
- Secure dorm rooms and hotel rooms for people who need to isolate away from home. If the demand is overwhelming, consider criteria to determine who receives priority.
- Continue to pursue plans to provide food delivery to those who must isolate because of COVID-19 exposure and plans to allow SNAP beneficiaries to order groceries online.
Provide clear communication and report more race and ethnicity data.
- Report on the racial and ethnic breakdown of the full population being tested, not just those who test positive.
- Communicate clearly and transparently about testing capacity and limitations, as well as criteria for who can get a test.
- Create a way to collect feedback from people who have concerns about testing or treatment.
The full brief is available here.
Arielle Levin Becker
Director of Communications
Connecticut Health Foundation