BOSTON — In an effort to help marginalized communities fight the impact of the coronavirus, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released a plan that recommends increasing housing stability and investing in multi-lingual outreach campaigns.
The positive test rate for black and Hispanic residents is about three times higher than the rest of the state. And Nine of the 10 cities and towns with the highest rates of COVID infection are also communities where more than half the residents identify as people of color, according to the DPH.
"We have long understood that racism is a public health issue that demands action, and the disproportionate impacts of this new disease on communities of color and other priority populations is the latest indicator change is necessary," said Commissioner Monica Bharel, who chaired an advisory group tasked with making the recommendations for a plan.
The COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group is a public, private partnership made up of 26 community leaders, health and racial equity experts, and members of communities and populations disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The group came up with a set of recommendations to work toward equitable access to health care resources, services and prevent inequities.
Key recommendations from their report include:
- Continuing to disaggregate COVID data across populations and sectors, such as transit usage.
- Increasing equitable distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) for essential workers and Commonwealth residents in professions most at risk.
- Implement policies that increase housing stability for populations disproportionally impacted by COVID-19.
- Prioritizing investment in multilingual outreach to communities to increase access to testing, home and workplace protections, and access to state assistance programs.
- Planning and implementing a strategy for the active engagement and representation of existing community based organizations in the most-impacted communities as part of decision-making processes related to COVID-19 response and recovery.