Alaska Initiative to Address COVID-19 Among High Risk, Rural, and Underserved Alaskans will expand Alaska?s ability to address COVID-related health disparities and advance health equity. Intended outcomes include 1) reduction of COVID-19 related disparities among rural and underserved populations, 2) improve testing and contact tracing among higher risk and underserved populations, 3) improve statewide and community capacity to prevent and control COVID-19 infection among higher risk and rural populations. This initiative includes development of a strategic plan and resources sufficient to enable its implementation in late Year 1 and during Year 2 across all strategies. Other activities that span all strategies include implementation of a new health equity strategic plan, local and regional government to fund community-based activities, a foundation partnership to fund and provide technical assistance to community-based organizations to address all strategies, and establishment of a DPH Health Equity Unit to provide statewide leadership and capacity to address health equity. Strategy 1?s activities will enhance the capacity for case investigations and contract tracing to focus on rural and underserved populations. Projects include developing a funding matrix based on Alaska?s health equity index to enable DPH and DHSS to take these factors into account in future community funding, and implementing pilot projects that use social determinants of health screening and electronic referral systems to connect patients with social services and to provide Medicaid funded health and behavioral health projects in rural schools. Strategy 2?s activities to enhance data collection and reporting for those with a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality will be met with enhanced analysis of racial and ethnic group and rural population data from case and contact investigations. Other projects include using data to build equity profiles and
reports relevant to the state health improvement plan, Healthy Alaskans, increasing data linkages between datasets within the Division of Public Health, and focusing population survey analysis on underserved population COVID-19 impacts. Strategy 3 activities will enhance state and local infrastructure for COVID-19 prevention and control in underserved communities through a review of the State of Alaska?s hiring process to enhance the ability of qualified members of underserved populations to serve in state government, a public health nursing residency to expand this workforce?s capacity to assess and address health inequities, and development of a statewide health equity strategic plan. Strategy 4?s activities to mobilize partners to advance health equity and address social determinants of health as they relate to COVID-19 health disparities in underserved communities. Projects include enhanced outreach, communications, and engagement for state health improvement planning statewide, leveraging Emergency Medical Systems to provide health services to underserved communities, augment mobile integrated health services for underserved communities, a review of state procurement processes with a health equity lens to ensure state health services reach underserved communities, using the "Communities that Care" model to provide training, technical assistance, and guidance to communities addressing health equity, using language panels to ensure COVID-19 and other health materials are understood by Alaska?s native language speakers, and providing health equity training to Alaska?s public health workforce.