What We Can Do To Promote Health Equity
Community- and faith-based organizations, employers, healthcare systems and providers, public health agencies, policy makers, and others all play a key part in promoting fair access to health. By setting examples of healthy behaviors and promoting CDC’s guidance and local community protocols, we can support public health efforts against COVID-19. CDC is committed to incorporating health equity practices into all health interventions.
You—as an individual or member of an organization—can join the effort to ensure that all communities have access to resources to maintain and manage the physical and mental health of their members, including those at increased risk for COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways we connect and support each other. As individuals and communities respond to COVID-19 recommendations and prevention steps (e.g., school closings, workplace closures, physical distancing), there are often unintended challenges for important aspects of emotional well-being, such as social connectedness and social support.
Shared cultural, faith, and family values are common sources of social support. Finding ways to maintain support and connection, even when physically apart, can empower and encourage individuals and communities to protect themselves, care for those who become sick, keep kids healthy, and better cope with stress.
Community and faith-based organizations can:
- Share clear and accurate information to educate community members about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns with the help of CDC’s Community-Based Organizations COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit.
- Review and role-model CDC’s guidance. Promote prevention measures, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, frequent handwashing, and staying home if you have or think you might have COVID-19.
- Help those who need assistance connecting with healthcare providers; for example, with scheduling a vaccination appointment or accessing resources for treatment and medicines.
- Work with others to connect people with goods (e.g., healthy foods and temporary housing) and services to meet their physical, spiritual, and mental health needs.
- Address and alert others about issues related to misinformation, myths, and lack of access to appropriate resources.
- Share COVID-19 prevention information with communities using ways you know are effective to connect with community members
- Work with trusted local media (such as local or community newspapers, radio, TV) to share information from CDC and other reputable public health organizations in formats and languages suitable for diverse audiences.
- Ask people from the community to share COVID-19 prevention messages and link people to resources and free or low-cost services, including testing.
- Reach out to the local public health department to offer to be a community testing or vaccination site, provide a platform for information-sharing, and share community insights.
- Review, role-model, and incorporate CDC’s guidance for businesses and employers into their company’s practices, empowering managers to ensure that best practices are followed.
- Maintain flexible leave policies. Allow employees who are sick, in home isolation, or who must care for a sick family member or take care of children due to school and childcare closures to stay home without fear of being fired or punished. Additional support might include giving advances on future sick leave days and allowing employees to donate sick leave to each other.
- Allow employees to use sick leave to be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19.
- Provide employees with COVID-19 prevention messages and CDC educational resources for trainings that are tailored to employees’ languages, literacy levels, and cultures.
- Provide masks, hand sanitizers, handwashing stations, and personal protective equipment as appropriate.
- Train employees at all levels of the organization to identify and interrupt all forms of discrimination; provide them with training in implicit biasexternal icon.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides resources to assist employers and workers in identifying COVID-19 exposure risks and help take appropriate steps to prevent exposure and infection. See the OSHA Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) topic page for the most current requirements, guidance, and tools.
Healthcare delivery systems can:
- Facilitate access to chronic disease management and services information.
- Provide patient supports (e.g., reminders, self-care management programs).
- Increase availability and accessibility of COVID-19 testing and vaccination for populations that are disproportionately affected, (e.g., racial and ethnic minority populations).
- Collect and report race and ethnicity data on all patients and educate staff and patients on why this information is an important part of making sure populations that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are receiving equitable access to testing, treatment, and vaccinations.
- Work with community health workers/promotores de salud, healthcare providers, and patient navigators to connect community membersexternal icon with health resources.
- Increase engagement with trusted community- and faith-based organizations and institutions that have relationships with local communities.
- Provide telehealth options.
- Provide all COVID-19-related services in a culturally appropriate way, according to the needs of patients.
- Ensure providers show awareness of and respectexternal icon for cultureexternal icon when providing COVID-19 testing and care.
- Train employees at all levels of the organization to identify and interrupt all forms of discrimination; provide them with trainingexternal icon in implicit biasexternal icon.
- Increase language access and help adapt public health guidance to local circumstances so that health information and recommendations reach the people who need it the most.
Public health agencies can:
- Build partnerships with tribes, scientific researchers, professional organizations, racial and ethnic minority-serving organizations, community organizations, and community members to share information and collaborate to prevent COVID-19 in communities.
- Provide information through channels and in formats and languages suitable for diverse audiences, including people with disabilities, limited English proficiency, low literacy, or people who face other challenges accessing information.
- Provide culturally and linguistically appropriate resources to conduct contact tracing, educate local communities about its importance, and identify and address barriers and challenges to contact tracing.
- Address misunderstandings about why people are being asked for personal information, including race and ethnicity, and why this information is important for stopping the spread of COVID-19 among family, friends, and communities.
- Promote fair access to health by
- Considering community diversity in contact tracing efforts to ensure cultural and linguistic appropriateness
- Establishing accessible testing sites for COVID-19
- Helping community members get what they need to isolate if they are sick or have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19
- Helping community members get information and resources to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and well
- Learn about what other communities are doing.
State, tribal, local, and territorial governments can:
- Provide culturally and linguistically appropriate resources to all communities, including access to locations for self-quarantine and isolation.
- Explore options to provide free or low-cost broadband Internet accessexternal icon so people can use telehealth and get information on COVID-19 and social services.
- Reassess policies that create barriers for healthcare providers to collect and report data on race and ethnicity.
- Explore options to protect renters from evictions.
- Work to expand childcare service options.
- Increase public transportation services (e.g., run buses or trains more often to reduce crowding, free access to city bike programs).
What CDC Is Doing:
- Providing assistance to public health agencies and others to expand testing, contact tracing, isolation options, and medical care to reach groups at increased risk for getting COVID-19 and having severe illness.
- Facilitating partnerships between public health agencies, tribes, scientific researchers, professional organizations, community organizations, and community members to share information and collaborate to prevent COVID-19 in racial and ethnic minority communities.
- Offering technical assistance to local communities with COVID-19 outbreaks in areas with disproportionate impact on workplaces that employ low wage workers (e.g., meat processing plants, agriculture, nursing homes).
- Supporting essential and frontline workers to prevent spread of COVID-19 in critical workplaces, learning more about their concerns and challenges and offering solutions to address them.
- Developing guidance to implement programs and practices that are in different languages and are culturally tailored to diverse populations.
- Continuing to build an inclusive public health workforce equipped to understand and meet the unique needs of an increasingly diverse population.
- Continuing to collect to assess and track disparities related to COVID-19, working to expand completeness of the data, and developing new ways of communicating data to the public and other stakeholders.
Learn more about CDC’s work to promote health equity pdf icon[86 KB, 5 pages] in the COVID-19 response.