The CDC awarded nearly $12 million collectively to Davidson and Shelby counties to address COVID-related health disparities in racial and ethnic minorities. Overall, the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) was awarded nearly $39 million in total this past week, with a rural carveout totaling over $8.3 million. The CDC says this funding to a total of 107 recipients is part of a larger goal to “advance health equity.”
The Metro Public Health Department of Nashville and Davidson County received over $4.9 million in these funds, while Shelby County Health Department received nearly $6.6 million. The Tennessee Star inquired with the CDC how the funds can be used specifically to address COVID-related health disparities among racial or ethnic minorities, and what metrics they would use to measure progress within the awarded states and localities. The CDC didn’t respond by press time.
According to the CDC page dedicated to COVID-19 health disparities, their goals are to improve and increase testing, contact tracing, health department capacity, and health department services for both high-risk and underserved populations. The CDC defined “underserved populations” as racial and ethic minorities, and rural community members.
The CDC’s full announcement of the grant explained that recipients should implement coordinated and holistic approaches to build cultural, linguistic, and local strategies to reduce COVID-19 risk.
“This grant will provide funding to address COVID-19 and advance health equity (e.g., through strategies, interventions, and services that consider systemic barriers and potentially discriminatory practices that have put certain groups at higher risk for diseases like COVID-19) in racial and ethnic minority groups and rural populations within state, local, U.S. territorial, and freely associated state health jurisdictions,” read the announcement.
The agency also noted that this grant-based initiative factors into “Healthy People 2030,” an initiative through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) to create “[a] society in which all people can achieve their full potential for health and well-being across the lifespan.”
Part of the foundational principles for Healthy People 2030 says that eliminating health disparities, achieving health equity, and attaining health literacy will lead to national health and well-being. Data for progress reports on this iteration of the initiative began in 2020; the original began in 1979 when previous Surgeon General Julius Richmond issued a report on public health promotion and disease prevention.
This goal of achieving health equity and rooting out social determinants of health amounts to $2.25 billion, derived from the Biden Administration’s Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and apportioned to last for the next two years.
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