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Wis. DHS awarded grants to address COVID-19 health inequities

(CBS Newspath)
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 4:19 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin’s top health agency received multiple grants Wednesday, paving the way for it to create a program to address the broader consequences of COVID-19 on underserved communities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention granted $27 million, which include $9 million allocated for rural communities, to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. These funds can be used for any program related to eliminating inequities related to COVID-19 infection, illness or death.

DHS was separately awarded $13 million to further its Vaccine Community Outreach grant program. This program helps fund agencies statewide dedicated to creating confidence in its community in getting the COVID-19 vaccine and increasing access in marginalized or underserved areas.

With these funds, DHS will create the “Mobilizing Communities for a Just Response” grant program. It will support local and tribal health departments and nonprofits in addressing health inequities and long-term consequences. The program’s goal is to reduce rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death in underserved communities.

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake noted how communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, increasing health disparities.

“Racism and systemic barriers, including lack of access to quality health care, job opportunities, housing, and transportation, have made these Wisconsinites more vulnerable to COVID-19,” Timberlake said. “With these investments in our communities, we can support a just recovery, and address the broader structures and conditions that promote health so that everyone in our state has an opportunity to thrive.”

Rural agencies or organizations that serve rural communities are encouraged to apply for DHS’ new grant program.

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