The National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities grant will be utilized to implement evidence-based strategies to address COVID-19 and advance health equity in racial and ethnic minority groups and rural communities within Florida. Florida is the third most populous state with over 20.2 million residents living within 67 counties and has the highest percentage of elderly residents in the U.S., with 18.4% of the population over age 65. According to the 2010 census, Florida is comprised of 53.5% Non-Hispanic White, 25.7 Hispanic, 16.9% African American (includes Afro-Caribbean), 2.9% Asian American, and 0.5% Native American. Florida has one of the largest African-American populations in the country and has the second-highest Latino population on the east coast outside of New York state. Approximately 9% (1.8 million) of Florida?s population lives in rural areas with limited resources and access to care and nearly 70% of Florida land is designated as rural. The Department will implement strategies to increase the awareness and accessibility of evidence-based interventions and ultimately reduce the burden of chronic conditions in the state that worsen the severity of COVID-19 infection in high risk populations. To aide with increasing access to COVID-19 prevention, contact tracing and vaccination, the Department will collaborate with community health worker (CHW) associations to train, deploy and engage CHWs in the response. In addition, strategies focusing on improving data collection will enable the Department to direct resources to populations experiencing disproportionate burden of COVID-19. Interventions in this area will data collection methods and visualization of community needs that support local, regional and state strategic planning to address social determinants of health. The Department will build infra
structure that will sustain the priorities of disparate populations to improve conditions where people live, learn, play, work and pray. The Department has integrated strategies to mobilize partners, like the Florida Rural Health Network, to improve social determinants of health for a generation who are most vulnerable to future public health emergencies. With each year, the Department will analyze successes and barriers through data evaluation and conduct quality improvement measures to ensure continual success beyond the life span of this funding.