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Florida Department of Health in Duval County Awarded National Grant to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities

By Samantha Epstein

June 17, 2021

Jacksonville, Florida - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Health Equity Project is a federal grant program that aids public health professionals in addressing COVID-19 health disparities among populations at high-risk in their communities; DOH-Duval has been selected as one of the grant recipients.

Jacksonville has a population of approximately 846,949 residents (twelve years of age and older) and has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the State’s COVID-19 Weekly Situation Report (as of June 10, 2021), there have been 100,193 cases of COVID-19; in addition - 382,348 have been vaccinated - resulting in a vaccination rate of 45%.

“Health disparities are a problem in our county, and we are continuously strategizing on how we can reach those who need us most,” said Dr. Pauline Rolle, Medical Director of DOH-Duval. “This grant is a step in the right direction and will help us improve contact tracing, provide more culturally appropriate health education, increase our capacity to provide vaccines, and decrease the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” 

COVID-19 Health Disparity Data 

  • Black residents, those of Other races, and Hispanics are at higher risk for poor outcomes due to COVID-19 and have been selected as priority populations for this COVID-19 Health Equity Project.
  • 8% of white residents have been infected with COVID-19.
  • In contrast, 12% of black residents, 18% of residents of Other races, and 10% of Hispanic residents have been infected with COVID-19.
  • Although Black residents represent 32% of the population, they account for 40% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The grant funding spans from July 1, 2021 to May 31, 2023 and will provide DOH-Duval with $6,549,091.00 to secure additional COVID-19 resources for populations identified as high-risk and underserved in Jacksonville, Florida. 

DOH-Duval’s COVID-19 Health Equity Strategies 

  1. Expand existing and/or develop new mitigation/prevention resources and services to reduce COVID-19 disparities among populations at higher risk and that are underserved.
  2. Build, leverage, and expand infrastructure support for COVID-19.
  3. Mobilize partners and collaborators to advance health equity and address the social determinants of health as they relate to COVID-19 disparities among populations at higher risk and that are underserved.

The COVID-19 Health Equity grant will also enable DOH-Duval to hire a Health Equity team and establish a COVID-19 taskforce as a subcommittee of Duval County’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) partnership to provide advice, guidance, and recommendations for addressing COVID-19 disparities and advancing health equity. 

Key External Partnerships 

  • City of Jacksonville
  • UF Health
  • Voices Institute
  • The Refugee Taskforce
  • The Jacksonville Housing Authority
  • The Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board
  • Safe Future Foundation
  • First Coast Black Nurses Association
  • Philippine Nurses Association of Northeast Florida
  • Muslim American Social Services (MASS) Clinic
  • Northeast Florida AHEC
  • Duval County Medical Society
  • Inspire to Rise

For additional information on the COVID-19 Health Equity Project or to schedule an interview with the Florida Department of Duval County, please contact Samantha Epstein.

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About the Florida Department of Health 

The Department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @HealthyFla. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.