COVID-19 Equity Task Force Update

by Raaga Devineni, Task Force Coordinator

We have previously reported on the establishment and activities of the New Hampshire COVID-19 Equity Task Force and want to keep you up-to-date. The New Hampshire Public Health Association (NHPHA), in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Office of Health Equity and Division of Public Health Services, continues to co-convene The New Hampshire COVID-19 Equity Task Force. The task force is a collective of over 50 individuals and organizations across NH representing multiple sectors and communities that has come together to address issues of equity arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and response. This is intended to broaden the network of people/organizations so we may support each other more intentionally and strategically, not supersede or duplicate existing efforts, and identify any needed advocacy that some of the partner organizations may be able to pursue when we form a broader coalition.

Task Force Accomplishments and Actions

The COVID-19 Equity Task Force initially convened on March 27 and now meets every two weeks with close to 60 individuals consistently participating and new participants joining weekly. Seven workgroups continue to meet to address the following areas of concern: concerns related to immigrants, digital divide and education, food insecurity, housing insecurity and homelessness, justice involved/incarceration/detention, mental health and substance use, and older adults and people with disabilities. Recently the task force accomplished the following actions.

The Digital Divide and Education group conducted a successful virtual listening session with parents, teachers, and students to understand the challenges of remote learning with disability, language access, and technology. The group will be taking further action accordingly after the data from the session is analyzed.

The task force has been instrumental in advocating for allocation of funds from the Cares act towards recovery housing. And Governor Sununu has recently announced $1.8 million for this purpose.

We have successfully obtained funding from the Non-Profit Emergency Relief Fund towards the future of the task force.

We are exploring a new funding opportunity provided by New futures for advocacy in effecting policy changes especially addressing issues of Equity.

We are in the process of sending a letter to the governor advocating for a universal mask mandate to curve the spread of COVID-19 in NH.

The members of the task force continue to communicate with grassroots organizations and leaders at the state, local, and national levels in pursuit of its goals. 

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