How Federal and State Government Can Improve COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Equity and Build More Sustainable Public Health Infrastructure
(October 12, 2022) Communities and organizations across the country have been critical partners for local, state, and national COVID-19 initiatives, working to educate people about covidtests.gov and help them order free tests. From January until August, over 70 million households received over 350 million free at-home rapid antigen tests through covidtests.gov, but now the White House is unable to ship free tests, despite having tests in stock, due to the lack of funding from Congress.
“Our national membership of community health workers, promotoras, community health representatives, peers and our national partners have been working on the frontlines of our country’s most socially vulnerable neighborhoods during COVID-19 — extreme rural areas, tribal nations, communities living below the federal poverty level or without healthcare coverage.
The closure of covidtests.gov makes their job of helping people get tested to protect their families and places of work, without having to spend the additional money needed for gas, bus fare and utilities, that much more difficult,” said Denise Octavia Smith, Executive Director of the National Association of Community Health Workers.
The authors — national organizations consisting of community health workers, public health, cultural, advocacy and direct service staff — came together in January to bring greater awareness to covidtests.gov and other options for free and low cost COVID-19 testing. We merged our COVID-19 testing and communications strategies, working together to hold national webinars, translate flyers and websites and quickly innovate in response to misinformation and mistrust. We partnered with thousands of smaller, community-based organizations and Community Health Workers — each with deep commitment and community trust, speaking the language and understanding the life experiences of the communities where they serve — to reach as many individuals as possible. Our efforts led to 600,000 test orders and 1.2 million web visits over a span of two days.