There are many factors that increase the spread and impact of COVID-19, including underlying health conditions, low socioeconomic status and lack of access to health care. And these factors are often most prevalent in non-White communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black populations have a COVID-19 hospitalization rate approximately 5 times that of white populations. But despite experiencing some of the greatest impact from COVID-19, the specific needs of these communities are often overlooked in crisis response programs, ultimately resulting in a lack of necessary resources.
To address this gap, UnitedHealthcare has rolled out the STOP COVID initiative, which provides free testing, food, sanitation supplies and educational resources to three at-risk communities.
Helping three communities manage COVID-19
The STOP COVID initiative has already launched in Los Angeles and New Orleans. It will also be implemented by early September in Chester City, Pennsylvania, which has the second most COVID-19 cases of all cities in Delaware County and is still experiencing an uptick in cases. These areas were chosen based on data analytic tools using the Area Deprivation Index, which identifies high-risk minority populations facing economic challenges and a lack of health care access.
Many of these communities faced economic distress prior to the pandemic. This has been further exacerbated by loss of or reduction in employment due to business closures and restrictions. When already struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, the additional loss of income makes it even more challenging for some households to prioritize purchasing items they need to help protect themselves against COVID-19.
To address this need, STOP COVID offers free supplies and safety kits, including masks, hand sanitizer and paper products. We have also partnered with local food banks to provide individuals with fresh fruits and vegetables to bring home and share with their families. To help equip individuals with the most up-to-date virus information, sites are providing individuals with educational resources that explain what they can do to lessen their risk of exposure. Individuals can also receive free testing at our Chester City and New Orleans sites.
At our New Orleans and Los Angeles sites, the initiative has provided more than 2,400 boxes of food and produce to individuals. The sites have also collectively provided nearly 6,000 educational flyers, more than 8,000 health and safety kits and more than 28,000 masks.
Partnering with local community leaders
The STOP COVID initiative partners with the local community and its leaders. This includes hiring individuals from the local communities to help provide supplies and administer tests. As time goes on, the program will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 in these three cities and take steps to adapt to each community’s needs.
Listening and responding to community needs
While supplying resources to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 are steps in the right direction, we will continue to enhance offerings through the STOP COVID initiative in the weeks to come. This includes increasing our efforts around social determinants of health to more specifically and effectively address the needs of Black and minority communities. As time goes on, we will continue to lean into conversations with community leaders and listen to the ongoing needs of these at-risk populations.
UnitedHealthcare is committed to using our resources to help during this time of crisis. With strong market relationships and access to population data, we can glean best practices from around the world and combine them with our knowledge of these local communities. Through these efforts, we can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and improve health outcomes.