COVID-19 Workforce Project

The COVID-19 Workforce Project helped rural-serving local health departments build their workforce capacity during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. NACCHO — with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — worked with training and technical assistance contractors to support health departments across the country.

Explore the sections below to learn the story of the COVID-19 Workforce Project, including grantees’ successes and lessons learned from the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Workforce Project equipped local health departments across the country with tools to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and prepare for future emergencies.

The goal of the COVID-19 Workforce Project was to help rural-serving local health departments effectively respond to and recover from the pandemic, and build their workforce capacity to serve their communities during future public health emergencies. NACCHO — with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — offered grants of up to $35,000 to local health departments.

Through the project, contracted training and technical assistance (TTA) providers helped grantees develop realistic, actionable, and meaningful emergency and administrative preparedness plans. TTA providers also created tools and resources to help grantees respond to COVID-19 in their communities.

Year 1: 2021

At the beginning of the pilot year, NACCHO selected 28 local health departments and granted funding for them to create communication materials about COVID-19 for their communities, train their staff on communications, conduct COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and later give vaccines. The grants also helped local health departments avoid diverting funds from other programs to support COVID-19 response efforts.

Year 2: 2022

Building upon successes from Year 1, NACCHO provided grants to 27 additional local health departments in Year 2 of the project. These rural-serving health departments used the grants to develop administrative preparedness plans, begin to transition from emergency response efforts to internal recovery, and address staff burnout brought on by the pandemic.

Year 3: 2023

In the third and final year of the project, NACCHO awarded grants to 10 rural local health departments. As pandemic emergency response efforts came to a close, health departments used the grants to prepare for future public health emergencies — including by developing administrative preparedness plans. Focus areas included communications, workforce mental health and well-being, and health equity, and emerging issues.

Telling Grantees’ Stories

NACCHO partnered with CommunicateHealth to inspire and educate local health departments by telling the story of the COVID-19 Workforce Project. Specifically, CommunicateHealth helped us create written profiles and videos showcasing grantees’ successes, challenges, and lessons learned — as well as infographics and a video providing key takeaways from the project.

Short profiles of our grantees’ work during the pandemic paint a picture of the challenges and successes that many rural communities experienced.

Through the COVID-19 Workforce Project, NACCHO provided grants to rural local health departments across the country. These organizations faced common challenges during the pandemic, including how to reach groups with less access to vaccines and testing and how to effectively communicate about a quickly evolving public health crisis. But with the funding they received through the project, grantees:

  • Found innovative ways to provide information, tests, and vaccines to community members
  • Worked to reduce health disparities
  • Forged partnerships with local governments, community organizations, and healthcare providers
  • Built capacity to respond to future public health emergencies

Read the profiles below to learn more about how COVID-19 Workforce Project grantees successfully served their communities during the pandemic.

Short profiles

These health departments also participated in the COVID-19 Workforce Project:

Five local health departments provided in-depth information about how they served their communities as part of the Workforce Project.

COVID-19 posed new challenges for rural local health departments. In the feature stories and videos below, learn about how 5 of our grantees overcame challenges and found innovative ways to serve their communities during the pandemic.

Greene County Health Department

Local health officials from Greene County Health Department in Carrolton, Illinois recount the ways they tailored COVID-19 response efforts to their community and identified champions in different populations to spread health messages to every member of their community.

Lewis County Health Department

Local health officials from Lewis County Health Department in Vanceburg, Kentucky explain how they built relationships with community members to counter COVID-19 misinformation.

Marietta/Belpre Health Department

Local health officials from Marietta/Belpre Health Department in Marietta, Ohio highlight the ways that they simplified and unified COVID-19 messaging for their community, connected with community organizations, and how the lessons learned have prepared them for future public health emergencies.

Oneida County Health Department

Local health officials from Oneida County Health Department in Rhinelander, Wisconsin discuss how they developed partnerships with local businesses and organizations in order to reach every member of their community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuscarawas County Health Department

Local health officials from Tuscarawas County Health Department in Dover, Ohio describe how they shared local COVID-19 data in order to build trust in their community and how federal and state legislators should work with their local jurisdictions to serve rural communities.

An overview video and clips of local health department staff describing their challenges, successes, and lessons learned from the pandemic highlight the project’s impact.

Dedicated, hardworking staff are the backbone of local health departments. The COVID-19 Workforce Project equipped health department staff with tools to respond to the unique challenges their communities faced — and created opportunities for them to connect and strategize with other public health professionals.

Watch the videos below to learn more about the Workforce Project — and to hear grantees’ inspiring stories in their own words.

Four infographics highlight key impacts of the Workforce Project — as well as the important services local health departments provide.

Rural local health departments across the country participated in the Workforce Project — and the work they did during the pandemic demonstrated just how important they are to the well-being of our communities. Explore these infographics to learn about:

To learn more about the COVID-19 Workforce Project, please reach out to the staff members below.

Public Health Preparedness Program

Emily Schreiner

Senior Program Analyst

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Community Health Program

Victoria Freire

Senior Program Analyst, Rural Health

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