State DOH gets $34M to address COVID-related health disparities

ALBANY COUNTY — Health Research Inc., an agent for the state’s health department, has been awarded $33,726,393 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address COVID-related health disparities.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, through the Fund for Public Health in New York, has received a similar amount.

The CDC’s largest investment yet to improve health equity in the United States, the funds are part of the federal part of $2.25 billion allocated through the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

“Data show that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected some populations and placed them at higher risk, including those who are medically underserved, racial and ethnic minority groups, and people living in rural communities,” says an announcement about the funds posted on the CDC website.

“These groups may experience higher risk of exposure, infection, hospitalization, and mortality,” the CDC goes on. “In addition, evidence shows that racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities have disproportionate rates of chronic diseases that can increase the risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 and may also encounter barriers to testing, treatment, or vaccination.”

Some of these patterns have been evidenced in Albany County, where, as of June 11, according to the county’s dashboard, 23 percent of the hospitalizations for COVID-19 and 13 percent of the deaths have been of Blacks or African Americans although they make up 11.4 percent of the county’s population.

Similarly, vaccination rates in some minority areas and some rural areas lag behind the overall county vaccination rate.

As of Friday evening, according to the state’s vaccine tracker, 63.5 percent of Albany County’s 307,117 residents have received at least one dose of vaccine as have 74.2 percent of county residents 18 or older.

Statewide, 55.4 percent of New Yorkers have received at least one dose while 67.0 percent of New Yorkers 18 or older have received at least one dose.

The intended outcomes of the CDC grants are to:

— Reduce COVID-19-related health disparities;

— Improve and increase testing and contact tracing among populations that are at higher risk and are underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities; and

— Improve state, local, US territorial, and freely associated state health department capacity and services to prevent and control COVID-19 infection.

The state health-department funding for New York includes a rural carve-out of just over $3 million.

“The pandemic has laid bare longstanding health inequities, and health departments are on the front line of efforts to address those inequities,” said José T. Montero, M.D., Director of CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support, in a statement. “These grants will provide these health departments with much needed support to address disparities in communities that need it most.”


Newest numbers

According to a Friday morning release from Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy, Albany County had four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s tally to 24,375.

Of the new cases, three had close contact with someone infected with the disease and one did not have a clear source of infection identified.

The five-day average for new daily positives decreased from 5 to 4.2. There are now 32 active cases in the county, up from 30 on Thursday.

The number of Albany County residents under quarantine decreased to 99 from 113. So far, 79,821 residents have completed quarantine. Of those, 24,343 had tested positive and recovered. That is an increase of two recoveries since Thursday.

There were once again no new hospitalizations overnight, and four county residents remain hospitalized from the virus. There are still two patients currently in intensive-care units, unchanged from Thursday.

Albany County’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 383.

According to the state’s dashboard, the infection rate for Albany County, as of Thursday, as a seven-day rolling average, was 0.4 percent.

The infection rate state-wide, also  as of Thursday, as a seven-day rolling average, was 0.5 percent.

More Regional News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.