WellShare Update: Racism and COVID-19

WellShare pledges to our community and partner organizations, to create a future in which ALL people have the right to live healthy, prosperous lives. We have always worked to bring awareness of racial disparities and integrate messages of health equity in our programs. Recent events, however, have led us to conclude that racism is the most important public health issue of our times. We are examining the types of programming we will pursue in the future, as well as looking at ways we can increase our ability to address racism in our current programs.

During our collective grieving of the murder of George Floyd and collective action for justice and change, the WellShare team has continued working hard to prevent further spread of COVID-19. COVID infection incidence is far higher among people of color and an example of the way race determines one’s health status.

Some of the things we have recently done to fight COVID in communities of color are:

  • Produced 5 videos in Somali on COVID-related topics, with the most recent one on how to get financial support, in partnership with the Islamic Civic Society of America (ICSA) reaching 1,000’s of viewers locally and globally.
  • Partnered with Twin Cities Public Television (TPT), 3Hmong TV, KALY Radio, KMOJ, and Univision to broadcast educational segments about the importance of mental health.
  • Distributed cloth masks to families participating in our early child development programming, thanks to donations by long-time WellShare volunteers/supporters.
  • Partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) to deliver COVID-19 education and health support to 1,471 Hmong, Somali, Spanish and Karen speaking households.
  • Integrated COVID messaging into existing programs:
    • Increased understanding that smoking is correlated with COVID-19 infection, through our East African Smoke-Free Program.
    • Coached and supported parents about early childhood development including addressing social determinants of health such as unemployment, food access, and housing through our Family Home Visiting Program.
  • Created a growing library of client education tools on our website that our staff, peer organizations, and individuals can access in Arabic, English, Hmong, Karen, Somali, Spanish, and Swahili.
  • Continually coordinated our activities with such organizations as the Minnesota Department of Health, various schools at the University of Minnesota, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the Community Health Worker Alliance.

Recent experiences of many of our community members has significantly increased their exposure to COVID-19.  While funding for COVID is not competing with fundraising to rebuild communities damaged, we believe we need to immediately step up our COVID prevention work with a focus on testing and contact tracing.  We invite you to help us save lives of the people at greatest risk of COVID.

Thank you for being part of the WellShare community–we will get through this together.

Check out our COVID-19 resource page and learn more about our work!

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