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WI announces millions to address racial, geographic inequities in COVID-19 response


MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin health officials are dedicating millions in funding to address racial and geographic inequities in COVID-19 response.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Wednesday a $27 million award from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to address varying infection, illness and death rates within some communities. Of those funds, $9 million will be dedicated to supporting rural communities.

An additional $13 million was also set aside to support the Vaccine Community Outreach grant program which supports groups working to build vaccine confidence, remove barriers for marginalized communities and share trusted vaccine information.

“Communities of color are bearing the brunt of this pandemic, which has exacerbated existing health disparities in Wisconsin,” DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said. “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. 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.”

The funding announcement came alongside news of a grant program called “Mobilizing Communities for a Just Response,” which aims to support local and tribal health departments and groups that are working to increase access to health care and reduce COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. A total of $3 million is available for groups working toward those goals. The Request for Applications is available online.

The application will remain open until Nov. 14. Current or previous grant recipients have until Oct. 25 to reapply.