This issue of NACCHO Exchange highlights four winning 2020 Model Practices and four winning 2020 Innovative Practices, ranging from topics including COVID-19, chronic disease, opioids, and food security. Below is an excerpt from one of the articles.
Collaboration to Advance Mobile COVID-19 Testing in Underserved Communities
By Charles H. Welge, MBA, Director of Public Health Planning and Education, Albany County Department of Health (NY)
Albany County is in eastern New York State, 136 miles north of New York City. Covering approximately 525 square miles, its urban center sits along the Hudson River surrounded by suburban municipalities and rural hill towns. As home of the state capital, much of Albany’s population is employed by the government, health, finance, education, and business sectors.
The county population is 305,506. Residents are predominantly white (75.8%), and the largest minority groups include Black (14.1%), Asian (6.8) and Hispanic/Latino (6.3%) persons. Minority populations are concentrated in urban areas.
Disparity in the distribution of COVID-19 exists within Albany County. During the April 15, 2020 November 30, 2020 period, the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 infection in very high-deprivation areas of Albany County (the cities of Albany, Cohoes, and Watervliet) were measurably higher than those in very low-deprivation areas. These communities are characterized by larger proportions of non-White residents, persons working in manual, essential, and public-facing sectors, more crowded housing, and food and healthcare insecurity.
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became evident that timely testing was critical to successful mitigation efforts and that lower income and minority communities faced significant challenges in accessing testing services. Albany County advocated for New York State to establish a drive-through testing site in Albany County; however, this and other early sites were in suburban areas, limiting access for at-risk urban residents without personal transportation.
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