Equitably Addressing COVID-19 and Economic Turmoil in Baltimore

Posted June 20, 2020
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
New initiative works to support Baltimore residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

A new pub­lic-pri­vate ini­tia­tive aims to employ 300 Bal­ti­more­ans to trace poten­tial COVID-19 infec­tions and coor­di­nate care for those who con­tract the disease.

The Bal­ti­more Health Corps — which is fund­ed by Bal­ti­more City, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, The Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion and oth­er part­ners — seeks to employ full-time care coor­di­na­tors and con­tact trac­ers,” pay them a liv­ing wage and pro­vide them with a stipend for health insur­ance. Work­ers also will receive skills train­ing in com­mu­ni­ty health, a grow­ing field that aims to con­nect peo­ple from dis­in­vest­ed com­mu­ni­ties with health services.

The city-run ini­tia­tive is pri­or­i­tiz­ing the hir­ing of unem­ployed res­i­dents who live in areas that have been hit hard­est by COVID-19 infec­tions. This includes com­mu­ni­ties of col­or on the city’s east and west sides, which are suf­fer­ing most from the cur­rent health and eco­nom­ic crises due to an his­toric lack of invest­ment.

We are glad to part­ner with the city and oth­er phil­an­thropic orga­ni­za­tions to sup­port a pro­gram that will help young peo­ple and fam­i­lies through­out Bal­ti­more reduce their expo­sure to the virus while cre­at­ing much-need­ed path­ways to a liv­ing wage and poten­tial careers,” says Tal­ib Horne, Bal­ti­more Civic Site direc­tor for the Casey Foun­da­tion. We hope oth­er fun­ders will join us in help­ing those affect­ed by the two biggest crises fac­ing Bal­ti­more today: the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic and the eco­nom­ic tur­moil it’s created.”

Over the next 12 months, Bal­ti­more Health Corps employ­ees will:

  • safe­ly engage indi­vid­u­als with COVID-19 to track down and test recent contacts;
  • help peo­ple with COVID-19 access health care;
  • par­tic­i­pate in coro­n­avirus-relat­ed safe­ty and edu­ca­tion­al cam­paigns, with a focus on reach­ing res­i­dents who lack access to the inter­net and qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion; and
  • con­nect res­i­dents of vul­ner­a­ble back­grounds with social sup­ports — such as finan­cial assis­tance or hous­ing pro­grams — as the health cri­sis continues.

Part­ners hope that the ini­tia­tive serves as a mod­el for increas­ing infec­tion test­ing and trac­ing nation­wide. Pub­lic-health experts are clear that con­tact trac­ing and robust test­ing are nec­es­sary to safe­ly reopen busi­ness­es and resume oth­er aspects of pub­lic life,” Horne says. We hope that indi­vid­u­als in the pri­vate, phil­an­thropic and gov­ern­ment sec­tors will take notice of Baltimore’s efforts to estab­lish a strong con­tact trac­ing sys­tem while also fos­ter­ing eco­nom­ic inclusion.”

Learn how work­force groups are adjust­ing to the pandemic

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