Communities Fighting COVID! (CFC) is a partnership between the SDSU School of Public Health (SPH) and the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency dedicated to addressing disparities related to COVID-19 in San Diego, the 5th largest county in the United States. CFC uses a Community Health Worker-led approach to conduct contact tracing in four priority communities: Hispanic/Latinos, Arabic-speakers, Tagalog-speakers, and African Americans. Community Health Workers (CHWs) are ethnically and racially representative of the communities they are serving. The representation of the community in the fight against COVID-19 provides culturally and linguistically appropriate services, which can lead to increased trust and utilization of public health interventions.
Since Communities Fight COVID! rolled out in early August 2020, CHWs have served approximately 10,000 people by providing multifaceted public health approaches to limit the spread of COVID-19 in these marginalized communities. CHWs assist with contract tracing and assisting individuals exposed to COVID-19 with planning to safely and feasibly quarantine. CHWs also provide critical phone and in-person home assessments throughout the quarantine period to assess need for additional resources, such as food deliveries.
In addition to these existing services, since February 2021, Communities Fighting COVID! CHWs have begun assisting eligible participants to access COVID-19 vaccines. CHWs have been contacting past or current program participants who are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and setting up appointments, many of which can be the same day. Currently the pilot project is focused on the high-incidence San Diego County communities of San Ysidro, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, and National City. Within the first two weeks of the program roll-out, CHWs scheduled appointments for 30% of those they were able to reach; 19% said they would think more about it, 49% had already received the vaccine, and 2% declined.
Dr. Hala Madanat and Dr. Corinne McDaniels-Davidson, from the San Diego State University School of Public Health, are leading the implementation of this vital program. To read more about Communities Fighting COVID! and the ongoing work, please visit AP News to read the article “Minority US contact tracers build trust in diverse cities.”