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Health Equity in Action – Stories from the Field Blogs

During the COVID-19 response, CDC focused its health equity efforts on populations placed at higher risk for COVID-19 and other conditions. CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) partnered with the COVID-19 Chief Health Equity Officer Unit to share the process and outcomes of these funded projects.

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In the first blog, authors spotlight the challenges the Multnomah County in Portland, Oregon face in getting COVID-19 vaccines. Approximately 50,000 people in Multnomah County are part of the Black and African immigrant and refugee population and, similar to national patterns, Black people in Multnomah County have higher risks of COVID-19 infection, hospitalizations, and deaths. With the assistance of supplemental CDC funding from the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant, the Multnomah County REACH program is working diligently with neighborhoods, community organizations, and faith-based organizations to reduce racial and ethnic disparities and share facts about COVID-19 vaccines.

The second blog highlights the El Centro community in Kansas City, Kansas. CDC partnered with PROCEED Inc., who engages with Hispanic or Latino-serving community-based organizations (CBOs) in a collective effort to increase the capacity of Hispanic or Latino communities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and future health issues. PODER en SALUD, meaning Power in Health, is a project of PROCEED, Inc. that collectively works to design and develop accurate, timely, culturally appropriate, and easy-to-understand COVID-19 communication and education products in Spanish and some indigenous languages to improve knowledge and adoption of COVID-19 prevention strategies among Hispanic or Latino communities.

In the third blog, authors share summaries from conversations with three charter school faculty members on how they were able to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their classrooms. In addition, CDC hosted listening sessions with charter and independent schools during December 2021, providing a two-way conversation on prevention strategies, factors driving disparities in vaccination rates, and resources to address their concerns.

Learn more about the impact these projects had on their communities in the Stories from the Field series on OMHHE’s Conversations in Equity blog.

Did You Know Campaign

Decorative image of Infographic for DId You Know capaign

CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support (CSTLTS) improves community health outcomes by strengthening state, tribal, local, and territorial health agencies. In July, CSTLTS and OMHHE collaborated on a Did You Know campaign highlighting COVID-19 disparities that impact some racial and ethnic minority groups. The campaign promotes partnership with communities to assure resilience to illness and promote health equity.

Learn more about how CDC is partnering with communities to address health disparities and promote health equity.

Firearm Deaths Grow, Disparities Widen

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According to a new CDC Vital Signs report, firearms were involved in 79% of all homicides and 53% of all suicides in 2020. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a historic increase of 35% in the firearm homicide rate, resulting in the highest firearm homicide rate in more than 25 years. This, along with increases in firearm suicide rates for some groups, has widened racial, ethnic, and other disparities

Firearm homicide rates are consistently highest among males, adolescents, young adults, and non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people. In 2020, firearm homicide rates increased across all age groups, with the highest rates and increases observed among those 10–44 years old. Considering age, sex, and race/ethnicity simultaneously, the largest increases in firearm homicide rates were among non-Hispanic Black males 10–44 years old.

Among the key findings for firearm homicides:

  • Rates increased for both males and females, but more notably among males.
  • The highest rates and increases occurred among non-Hispanic Black persons.
  • Rates increased across the country in large and small metro areas, as well as non-metro and rural areas.
  • Rates were higher and showed larger increases in counties with higher poverty levels.

Among the key findings for firearm suicides:

  • The overall rate remained nearly level between 2019 and 2020.
  • Rates increased most notably among non-Hispanic AI/AN males aged 10–44 years old.
  • Overall, rates were highest at the highest poverty level and lowest at the lowest poverty level.
  • Non-metro and rural areas experienced the highest rates.

Learn more about preventing homicide rates and gun violence.

New CDC Data Illuminate Youth Mental Health Threats During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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A special issue of CDC’s MMWR highlights the mental health of U.S. high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a disproportionate level of threats that some students experienced.

According to the new data, in 2021, more than a third (37%) of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.

The new analyses also describes some of the severe challenges youth encountered during the pandemic:

  • More than half (55%) reported they experienced emotional abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, including swearing at, insulting, or putting down the student.
  • 11% experienced physical abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, including hitting, beating, kicking, or physically hurting the student.
  • More than a quarter (29%) reported a parent or other adult in their home lost a job.

Learn more on the challenges youth reported during the pandemic.

CDC’s New Health Equity Website

Decorative Health Equity image

CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) launched new webpage dedicated to providing a greater understanding of health equity. Health equity is the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Achieving this requires ongoing societal efforts to address historical and contemporary injustices, overcome economic, social, and other obstacles to health and health care, eliminate preventable health disparities.

CDC is transforming its public health research, surveillance, and implementation science efforts to expand beyond listing the markers of health inequities to identifying and addressing the drivers of these disparities. OMHHE has adopted four CORE goals to support the agency’s commitment to health equity which include:

  • OMHHE will facilitate and accelerate health equity principles’ adoption across CDC programs, policies, data systems, and funding structures
  • OMHHE/Office of Women’s Health will collaborate with partners to address and reduce the impact of gender discrimination and gendered racism in the workplace
  • OMHHE will mobilize partners to develop and implement strategies addressing health disparities and long-standing inequities including social determinants of health
  • OMHHE will transform the public health workforce to ensure diversity and health equity competencies in existing and future staff.

Learn more about OMHHE’s CORE commitment to health equity.

Notice of Funding Opportunity: CDC John R. Lewis Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program and Dr. James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Fellowship: Exposure of Undergraduate, Graduate Students, and Postgraduates to Minority Health, Public Health, and Health Professions CDC-RFA-CD22-2201

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) announces a funding opportunity for organizations to implement the CDC John R. Lewis Undergraduate Public Health Scholars (Lewis Scholars) Program and Dr. James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases (Ferguson) Fellowship. The goal is to support a diverse pool of candidates to pursue careers in public health professions. Through experiential learning opportunities in public health settings, the Lewis Scholars Program exposes 2-year junior college graduates, 4-year undergraduate college junior and senior students, and recent postgraduates to minority health and health equity topics; preparing them to meet future workforce needs. The Ferguson Fellowship supports graduate-level scholars with summer-, semester-, and year-long public health research and professional development opportunities in areas such as infectious diseases, public health, mental health, maternal and child health, and/or health equity research. The Lewis Scholars Program and Ferguson Fellowship emphasize increasing knowledge and interest in public health and health care careers among students and recent graduates from historically underserved and socially disadvantaged populations.

Interested applicants can view the full funding announcement here.