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Health Equity and COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health has been working to promote justice, mitigate health inequities, and promote transparency. Here are examples of work being done during COVID-19 to achieve health equity in Pennsylvania:

​Press Conferences

Virtual press conferences are held regularly by members of the Wolf Administration and include:

  • A diverse speaker pool, including doctors, faith-based leaders, and community leaders to help build trust in communities.
  • ASL interpreters at all press conferences.
  • Availability to view live in Spanish.

Websites and Apps

The Wolf Administration websites, apps, and tools are created to be accessible to all users, including:

  • The DOH website can be translated into 109 languages using the translate feature in the top right corner.
  • The DOH daily noon press release is translated to Spanish.
  • Many general COVID-19 materials translated to Spanish, French, and Chinese.
  • Many COVID-19 vaccine materials translated to Spanish, Chinese, and German.
  • The Get Vaccinated site, which walks individuals through four steps to learn to how to get vaccinated, including completing the Your Turn tool.
  • The Your Turn tool, which helps individuals see if they’re eligible for a vaccine and sign up for updates and information about the vaccine from DOH. The Your Turn tool is available in English, Spanish, German, and Chinese.
  • The COVID Alert PA smartphone app allows users to opt-in to receive alerts if they have had a potential exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. It also provides information on testing, contact tracing, what to do if they are exposed and/or test positive for COVID-19, and vaccination. COVID Alert PA is available in English, Spanish, German, and Traditional Chinese.

PA Health Hotline (877-PA-HEALTH)

The PA Health Hotline has trained representatives available 24/7 available to:

  • Discuss COVID-19 and vaccine-related information with callers while referencing weekly talking points to ensure they have the most updated information.
  • Offer assistance with scheduling vaccine appointments and completing the Your Turn tool.
  • Route calls from non-English speakers to a translation service.

COVID-19 Campaigns

The Wolf Administration developed targeted COVID-19 campaigns to dispel rumors and mistrust in the community regarding vaccination, masking efforts, social distancing, etc. Examples include:

  • On September 28, the Wolf Administration announced investing $3.8 million funded through a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) grant to educate and rally together Pennsylvania to fight COVID-19, with special focus on marginalized communities. This includes television and radio spots efforts and is called PA Unites Against COVID.
  • DOH also deployed a $1.5 million general immunizations campaign that was used to communicate the importance, safety, and effectiveness of vaccines. This initiative included English and Spanish ads.
  • Once further funding is identified specific for COVID-19 vaccines, the department has plans to create targeted media campaigns for the Latino/Spanish speaking communities.
  • DOH is working with the University of Pennsylvania, who is conducting focus groups to survey African Americans about the COVID Alert PA app and their thoughts about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Community Relationships

DOH fosters trusted partnerships in local communities to spread vaccination messages from trusted sources and community leaders. There are weekly updates from different sources in PA DOH to ensure open lines of communication with partners. Examples include:

  • 211 United Way of PA utilizing call centers and text message campaigns to convey consistent messaging with DOH.
  • Sharing the informational vaccination videos from the Muslim Coalition on the DOH website and social media accounts.

Many work groups are also in place to help reach target audiences. Examples include:

  • Autism working group – Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT), Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and DOH.
  • Hospital and health system working group – Public information officers and other communication staff at Pennsylvanian hospitals and health systems, Hospital and health system Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), and DOH.

DOH also utilizes an interagency approach to help reach all populations. Examples include:

  • Weekly interagency email updates on COVID-19 vaccination program from the Office of Administration.
  • Utilize Department of Labor & Industry for ASL informational videos.
  • Utilize Department of Aging to reach the older Pennsylvanian population.
  • Utilize Department of Community & Economic Development to conduct vaccine town halls in communities.

Vaccine Resources

DOH created a vaccine subsite to help individuals easily find COVID-19 vaccine information. Information on the subsite includes:

COVID-19 Testing

The Wolf Administration developed an enhanced testing strategy with a focus on three pillars: ensuring testing is accessible for all Pennsylvanians with symptoms of COVID-19; available by increasing supply and building community capacity and adaptable to the evolving landscape of the virus and data. We partnered with organizations to help ensure those goals are met. Examples include:

  • The department partnered with Latino Connection, a marketing and communications agency, to bring mobile COVID-19 testing to more communities. Known as CATE, Community-Accessible Testing & Education, the unit is equipped to conduct COVID-19 testing on-site through a mobile RV vehicle while also educating the public on how to stay safe and healthy.
  • AMI Expeditionary Healthcare (AMI) contracted with DOH to provide free pop-up COVID-19 testing in counties across the commonwealth. AMI provided testing for all 61 counties without a county health department. DOH contributed press releases and social media graphics to promote the testing sites. Some counties worked with their local transportation systems to ensure that non-driving individuals still had access to testing.