COVID-19, Health Equity, and the Church

How United Way’s partnership with local Black churches is targeting longstanding health disparities

When the pandemic hit the United States, it quickly became clear that COVID-19 disproportionately harms many racial and ethnic groups. Nearly two years later, we still see these disparities, with Black community members being more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to be hospitalized with COVID-19

Inequities in the social determinants of health – things like access to health care and gaps in education, income, and wealth – are driving factors for these uneven impacts in our society.

“When White America gets a cold, Black America catches pneumonia.”
In response to the pandemic’s effects on the Black community, Choose Healthy Life (CHL) - a national initiative addressing public health disparities in Black communities - launched an effort to expand access to COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, vaccines, and other health services in underserved communities through partnerships with Black churches. 

Why Black churches? There is distrust of medical institutions among Black community members due to historical and ongoing discrimination and racism. Churches are uniquely positioned to be a trusted source of accurate information on COVID-19 fighting measures.

Bringing CHL to New Orleans
United Way of Southeast Louisiana is proud to join CHL to bring this initiative to New Orleans. We are currently working with five partner churches – Mount Zion Baptist Church, New Hope Baptist Church, Greater Little Rock Baptist Church, United Fellowship Full Gospel Baptist Church, and Rock of Ages Baptist Church – who are leading impactful outreach in their communities. 

Since launching in the fall of 2021, our partners have:  

  • Achieved over 17,860 community engagements, including direct door-to-door canvassing, phone-banking, weekly worships, and community events. 
  • Spent over 240 hours canvassing in their communities.
  • Hosted four community vaccination events, with two more happening this month.
  • Provided over 175 vaccinations.

We are honored to work with these trusted leaders as they utilize their lived experience to promote health in the Black community. 

Together, we can eliminate barriers to prosperity and create an equitable Southeast Louisiana with health, education, and financial stability for all. 

Tap Bui Tap Bui, MPH
Vice President of Community Impact, Health and Fund Distribution
United Way of Southeast Louisiana