Coalition Letter: 39 Multicultural Advocates and Public Health Organizations Call For More COVID-19 Help For Vulnerable Communities

Coalition Letter: 39 Multicultural Advocates and Public Health Organizations Call For More COVID-19 Help For Vulnerable Communities

The Health Equity Collaborative, along with 39 signatories including UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, NAACP, and American Federation of Teachers, released a coalition letter to HHS and the Congressional Tri-Caucus urging HHS to make more funding opportunities available to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

Recently, The Office of Minority Health issued a funding opportunity announcement to assess COVID-19 impacts to minority communities. While we applaud the Department’s efforts, we are disappointed that it will only award one grant to one entity to establish a national infrastructure for mitigating the impact of COVID-19 within communities of color and rural communities

The letter asserts providing a single award to one entity – even if its funding a network – is insufficient and will not have the desired impact to help those in need of support given the scope of the problem and the diversity of at-risk communities.

See the full letter here or below:

Dear Secretary Azar,

We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to you concerning the recent grant opportunity announced by the United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Minority Health (OMH) entitled “National Infrastructure for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 within Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities” MP-CPI-20-006.  

While we applaud the Department’s efforts, we are disappointed that it will only award one grant to establish a national infrastructure for mitigating the impact of COVID-19 within communities of color and rural communities.

As you are well aware, the novel coronavirus is having a devastating impact on older Americans and racial and ethnic minorities. In fact, data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that COVID19 is having disproportionate effects on these communities, with African Americans accounting for 34% of confirmed cases with known race/ethnicity compared to 13% of the total population as of April 20, 2020. However, race and ethnicity is missing or unspecified for nearly two-thirds (65%) of the CDC-reported cases, limiting our understanding of the true impacts by race and ethnicity. Further, in states like New York, the novel coronavirus is killing Latinos at twice the rate that it is killing white people. In California, COVID-19 is killing black and Latinos at higher rates than whites in New York City and beyond.  The brunt of the disease is still not known among low income, limited-English-speaking populations who may not have access to timely, accurate information. Furthermore, the CDC states that some people with disabilities may have a higher risk of infection or severe illness because of an underlying medical condition.

In order to have the best chance of mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority, rural, disability, and disadvantaged communities hardest hit by the current pandemic, and people with disabilities, we recommend HHS take the following steps:

Expand Funding Opportunities to Address Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on Vulnerable Communities

  • Fund multiple approaches and organizations to address the problem. It is unlikely that a single organization is in a position to develop an effective strategy to mitigate the impact of COVID 19 across multiple subgroups, including tribal and rural communities, as proposed by this grant.  Providing a single grant to one entity will not have the impact that we urgently need now to save lives of people of color, those with higher risks due to underlying medical conditions and/or disabilities, and those who live in rural and tribal communities who have been devastated by COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Introduce funding opportunities for distinct communities along with guidelines that allow for the study of (and intervention on) direct and indirect health impacts of COVID-19.
  • Establish transparent criteria for how applications will be evaluated and scored for any COVID-19 funding opportunities through the Office of Minority Health.
  • Clarify areas of priority, whether these are specific populations or mechanisms driving disparities.

Disaggregate and Report COVID-19 Data by Race, Ethnicity, Language, Gender, Disability, and Socioeconomic Status

  • We encourage HHS to collect comprehensive, demographic data on race, ethnicity, gender, language, disability, and socioeconomic status of patients being tested for COVID-19, the rate of positive test results, and outcomes for those with COVID-19. This data will be invaluable to ensuring that our nation’s health response to the current crisis is equitable and reaching all communities.

We stand ready to support you and would be happy to serve as a resource should you have any questions or require additional information. Thank you again for your work to address the     COVID-19 public health crisis and for your efforts to prioritize equity in the work of HHS.




Jason Resendez

Chief of Staff UsAgainstAlzheimer’s


Kevin Kimble


Health Equity Collaborative


Brandon Macsata


ADAP Advocacy Association


Kim Nichols

Co-Executive Director

African Services Committee


Rosa Mendoza

President and CEO



Earl Hadley

Assistant Director

American Federation of Teachers


Mark Edberg

Center Director

The Avance Center


Michelle A. Albert, MD


Association of Black Cardiologists


Tammy Boyd

Chief Policy Officer

Black Women’s Health Imperative


Connie Stewart

Executive Director

California Center for Rural Policy


Earl Fowlkes


Center for Black Equity


Barbara Kornblau

Executive Director

Coalition for Disability Health Equity


Anthony Feliciano


Commission on the Public’s Health System


Bill Arnold

President and CEO

Community Access National Network


Priscilla Mendenhall

Executive Director

Cville Immigrant Freedom Fund


Theanvy Kuoch

Executive Director

Khmer Health Advocates


Diana M V Shaw

Executive Director

Lanai Community Health Network


Amy Hinojosa

President and CEO

MANA, A National Latina



Hilary Shelton

Washington Bureau Director



Ronald Manderscheid

Executive Director



Cresta Archuletta

Executive Director

National Association of Hispanic Nurses


Ricardo Byrd

Executive Director

National Association of



David Johns

Executive Director

National Black Justice Coalition


Brian Hudich

Executive Director

National Coalition for LGBT Health


Kelly Buckland

Executive Director

National Council on Independent Living


Curtis Decker

Executive Director

National Disability Rights Network


Yanira Cruz


National Hispanic Council on Aging


Justin G. Nelson

Co-Founder & President

National LGBT Chamber of Commerce


Justin Vélez-Hagan

Executive Director

National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce


  1. Isabelle Chaudry

Senior Policy Manager

National Women’s Health Network


Mark Misrok

Executive Director

National Working Positive Coalition


Lee Page

Senior Associate Advocacy Director

Paralyzed Veterans of America


Brady Buckner


Partnership for Innovation

and Empowerment


Sana Chehimi

Director of Policy & Advocacy

Prevention Institute


Yousra Yusuf


South Asian Public Health Association


Dr. Charles Steele


Southern Christian

Leadership Conference


Julie Ward

Senior Executive Officer of Public Policy

The Arc of the United States       


Robin Tinnon

Executive Director

We All Rise


Candace Waterman

President & CEO

Women Impacting Public



CC:    Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chairwoman, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

Congresswoman Karen Bass, Chairwoman, Congressional Black Caucus

Congressman Joaquin Castro, Chairman, Congressional Hispanic Caucus