Protecting Public Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: PHI Response & Resources

The Public Health Institute and its programs are continuing to review and share emerging science, best-practices and policy shifts that may affect how our communities, healthcare and public health systems, insurers and providers respond to and manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

image: COVID-19 virus

Because of the speed with which new information, policies and recommendations related to COVID-19 are being updated, we are linking directly to many of our program source materials, and including time stamps. Check back often for updates


PHI resources on COVID-19 response

  • COVID-19 Study Finds Striking Inequities in Access to Healthcare During the Pandemic (1/26/2023):A study from PHI’s Alcohol Research Group (ARG) found that during the pandemic Hispanic/Latinx respondents were 20 percentage points less likely to receive needed general healthcare and 18 percentage points less likely to receive behavioral healthcare, than White respondents. Respondents delayed getting care largely due to pandemic-related issues like medical office closures, lockdowns, or fear of infection, as well as cost. Temporary telehealth policies put in place during the pandemic proved critical to increasing access: 98% of Hispanic/Latinx respondents who received any behavioral healthcare during this period used telehealth for their care.
  • students wearing masksJóvenes latinos sirven como educadores de salud para mejorar las tasas de vacunación en sus comunidades (1/25/2023): Tomas Magana, de PHI, habla sobre la importancia de los jóvenes como educadores de COVID para sus compañeros y familiares, especialmente para la comunidad latina. Magana lidera la Coalición FACES for the Future de PHI, un cuerpo juvenil de salud donde los estudiantes han aprendido cómo ser educadores de vacunas COVID en la comunidad.
  • Latinx Youth Serve as Health Educators to Improve Vaccine Rates in Their Communities (1/25/2023): PHI’s, Tomas Magana, discusses the importance of youth as COVID educators for their peers and family, especially for the Latino community. Magana leads PHI’s FACES for the Future Coalition, a health youth corps where students have learned how to be COVID vaccine educators in the community.
  • Together Toward Health: Supporting Communities Through COVID-19 and Beyond(1/17/2023): Guided by equity, PHI’s Together Toward Health is a joint program with major California philanthropic organizations, which supports more than 500 community-based organizations statewide who serve as trusted experts for COVID-19 education, testing and vaccination access in their communities.
  • PHI’s Susan Watson Speaks on COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in Black Communities (11/8/2022): Susan Watson, Program Director of PHI’s Together Toward Health, presented at the American Public Health Association’s 2022 Annual Meeting & Expo in Boston, Massachusetts where she discussed COVID-19 in Black communities, the importance of an equitable response, and addressing historical barriers to vaccine access.
  • Briefs: Responding to COVID-19 Through Multi-Funder Collaboration and Fast, Flexible Funds to Communities (8/31/2022): PHI’s Together Toward Health is a COVID-19 response initiative, formed by a pooled, multi-funder collaborative to provide fast, flexible funds to CBOs with local knowledge and community trust. Find insights and lessons-learned, including recommendations to inform and strengthen shared grantmaking efforts, and guidance on how flexible funding can build health, equity and community power.
  • New Study Shows Connection Between Air Pollution and Increased Risk for COVID Infection and Death in California (8/2/2022): California is home to some of the highest concentrations of air pollution in the nation. A study released today by the Public Health Institute’s Tracking California program reveals that air pollution increases the risk of COVID-19 infection and death. The study, Association Between Long-Term Exposure to Particulate Air Pollution with SARS-CoV-2 Infections and COVID-19 Deaths in California, U.S.A., was conducted in partnership with researchers from the University of California, San Francisco.
  • Supporting Communities and Local Public Health Departments During COVID-19 and Beyond: A Roadmap for Equitable and Transformative Change (7/20/2022): In this report, Public Health Alliance of Southern California and the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity share policy, program, and resource recommendations and best practice examples to help ensure that local public health departments are adequately prepared to protect communities most vulnerable to the health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, as well as future public health emergencies.
  • PHI’s Communities RISE Together program featured at White House Summit on American Rescue Plan and Workforce (7/11/22): RISE partners train and engage vaccine ambassadors and Promotoras to serve as trusted messengers and connect community members with vaccines and critical resources, while working to address the underlying drivers that are creating gaps in health. Together, they’ve reached over 44 million people through trusted, often non-traditional messengers and channels, and connected more than 200,000 community members to vaccines and supports like food, rental assistance and social connection.
  • How to Emphasize Equity When Talking About COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery (6/30/2022): What might a truly equitable recovery from the pandemic look like? PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group shares strategic communication recommendations to help shape recovery efforts in ways that center racial and health equity, including: frame recovery in terms of people and public health, rather than strictly economic; name specific solutions that elevate equity; prepare public health and community messengers; and generate media attention for a just recovery.
  • Video Series – What Latino Parents Need To Know About COVID Vaccines (5/18/2022): A comprehensive video series from PHI’s Latino Coalition Against COVID-19 answers frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and vaccines in English and Spanish, including: “Should I vaccinate my child if they already had COVID-19?,” “Are there COVID-19 treatments I can use at home?,” “What does it mean to be ‘fully vaccinated’ now?” and more. It also shares best practices for how the medical community can better reach Latino families.
  • Bringing Together County and Community Expertise to Stem COVID-19 (5/15/2022): In Santa Barbara, seven Together Toward Health-funded community-based organizations and the health department worked together to reach farmworkers, Black communities and other systemically excluded groups with COVID-19 resources and vaccines. Partners met each week to share their collective expertise, including in-depth data, tailored materials and insights on how to successfully connect with community members. Today, the group continues to collaborate on addressing broader health and equity goals.
  • Responding to COVID-19 in India (5/15/2022):In response to COVID-19, Rise Up leader Panchshila Kumbharkar worked with her organization, Swadhikar, to survey their existing network of 5,000 Dalit families. They discovered that thousands had not received funds promised to them by India’s government. Learn how Panchshila and Swadhikar successfully advocated for dedicated relief funds that helped over 320,000 people access financial resources to buy food and supplies—establishing a model to be scaled across the state.
  • Video: PHI STAR Fellow Dr. Olayinka on Gates Foundation Working Dinner: “New Variants, New Challenges” (5/9/2022): On the Gates Foundation Working Dinner series, PHI STAR Fellow Dr. Folake Olayinka joins other leading global health experts to discuss the global impact of COVID-19 variants and strategies to better prepare our health systems for both future variants and the next pandemic—beginning at the community level.

Breakthrough Infection Study Compares Decline in Vaccine Effectiveness and Consequences for Mortality

A study published in the leading journal Science reviewed COVID-19 breakthrough infections among 780,225 Veterans, finding that vaccine protection declined from 87.9% to 48.1% during the 2021 Delta surge in the U.S. The researchers from PHI, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Texas Health Science Center found a dramatic decline in effectiveness for the Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccine, from 86.4% in March to 13%.1 in September. They also found that vaccination of any type was protective against death among infected individuals.

Find out more

  • Philanthropy Must Never Forget What the Pandemic Taught Us About How to Support Public Health (4/5/2022): Originally published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Susan Watson, director of PHI’s Together Toward Health, reflects on how the pandemic has taught philanthropic and public-health leaders to connect with hard-to-reach communities and trust the community-based organizations that understand best what their neighbors need.
  • Advancing Global Health During A Pandemic: PHI/CDC Third-Year Fellows’ Impact (3/23/2022): Throughout COVID-19, PHI/CDC third-year Fellows have helped to improve community health around the world—supporting CDC’s Emergency Operations Center in its response to the pandemic, in addition to their regular fellowship assignments with CDC’s Center for Global Health.
  • Reflections from PHI’s Dr. Mary A. Pittman on the Third Year of COVID-19 (3/15/2022): “As we mark the beginning of our third year of COVID-19, things appear so different than they did just a year ago. In March of 2021, vaccinations were beginning to become available and there was hope that they signaled the beginning of the end of the pandemic, here at home and globally. We know now that while vaccinations and recommended boosters are remarkably effective at protecting against hospitalization and death, COVID itself is likely here to stay as we move from a pandemic to endemic situation. We will all have to adjust our long-term thinking in order to make sure we keep each other safe, especially those most at risk.” Read the full statement.
  • Flipping the table logo with roosterPodcast: Let’s Feed LA County Team Reveals the Power of Community Based Organizations (3/1/2022): Pandemic, heat waves, fires and storms demand robust public health infrastructure that includes networks of well resourced community based organizations (CBOs). The Let’s Feed LA County program that included 19 local organizations, Roots of Change, Center for Wellness and Nutrition and Wholesome Wave makes clear the need to permanently invest in CBOs on the frontline so they are ready when things get tough.
  • Together Toward Health Grantee Empower Solano Launches Campaign to Fight COVID Misinformation (2/25/2022): Empower Solano is countering vaccine misinformation through outreach at public events, speaking engagements, partnering with churches and schools, canvassing neighborhoods and posting on social media. Their work is funded through PHI’s Together Toward Health program and aims to build trust in the county’s black and brown communities
  • How Advocates Can Create Pitches That Lead to Media Coverage: 5 Tips from Journalists (2/24/2022): For every news story about soaring COVID case counts & devastating pandemic losses, there are countless other untold tales about the long-standing work of public health advocates. Check out these tips from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group to learn how advocates can best get their stories to the media.
  • Video: Together Toward Health (2/22/2022): See how the Public Health Institute’s Together Toward Health connects with community based organizations to expand workforce development opportunities for Californians most impacted by COVID-19, and to create and amplify public outreach efforts to reduce its spread.
  • PHI’s Communities Rise Awarded $10m for COVID-19 Equity Work from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2/8/2022): PHI and Communities RISE (RISE)—an alliance of partners connected to over 2,400 organizations across the nation—has been awarded a nearly $10 million COVID-19 outreach grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration, to expand outreach to Black, Native American, Latinx, immigrant and migrant, low-income, older adult, and LGBTQ+ populations that are not yet vaccinated.
  • Video: Communicating About Vaccines: Meeting People Where They Are (2/2/2022): Shame is all too common in communication about vaccines, but we should avoid it because it is not effective at changing individuals’ hearts and minds. Instead, as research has shown, we need to demonstrate empathy, listen without judgment, and share messages using credible local spokespeople who are easy for audiences to relate to. Learn more in this video, the fourth in a series from Berkeley Media Studies Group.
  • Statement: Why PHI is Supporting Science, Backing Vaccine Requirements and Ensuring Vaccine Equity Access (1/31/2022): “Promoting and supporting full vaccinations for COVID-19 is one of the most important tools we have to see our way out of this pandemic. We need to do all we can, and use every tool at our disposal, to ensure our employees, their families, and our communities are safe.” Read the full statement.
  • Blog: Five Ways To Combat Misinformation When Communicating About COVID (1/15/2022): Misinformation and disinformation are fueling vaccine hesitancy and discouraging communities from seeking out resources and services that could improve their lives. Addressing these threats is a public health imperative. See five tips for how public health advocates and practitioners can combat misinformation, from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group.5 tips for combting misinformation about COVID
  • Monterey County COVID Collaborative Helps Residents Find Testing Sites (1/11/2022): In Monterey County, the VIDA project and the Monterey County COVID-19 Collaborative, grantees of PHI’s Together Toward Health program, are providing COVID-19 testing and vaccination information in English, Spanish, and Triqui, Zapoteco, and Mixteco, indigenous languages of Mexico. They reach about 7,000 people each month and in January 2022 they tested 2,688 people for COVID.
  • Berkeley Schools Ramp Up Testing Amid Omicron Surge (1/7/2022): Committed to keeping schools open, the Berkeley school district is ramping up testing and passed a booster-or-test policy for students and staff. Ana Vasudeo of the Public Health Institute’s Safely Opening Schools program is highlighted for her work in helping districts across the state, including BUSD, get access to at-home rapid tests.
  • Press Release: Study Suggests COVID Survival Benefit from Common Drugs (1/6/2022): A new study in the British Medical Journal co-authored by PHI researchers reviewed data from more than 9,500 patients with COVID-19, and found that certain common medications could be effective in decreasing mortality rates from COVID.
  • woman holding sign that says Yo Ya Me VacunePHI’s Together Toward Health Recognized for Vaccine Equity Partnerships by California Governor Gavin Newsom (12/13/2021): PHI’s Together Toward Health is featured in the 2021 State of California Social Innovation Impact Report as a leading example of how to resource, build and leverage trusted partnerships with community-based organizations to advance health and vaccine equity.
  • Webinar Recordings: Kaiser’s Public Health and the Delivery System: Vital Connections: “Community based organizations are more than partners,” said PHI President and CEO Mary A. Pittman at Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy’s virtual forum. “They are an integral part of the public health ecosystem and we need to think about how to shift resources, power and decision making, and different ways of thinking about community-based organizations and our next steps in building that important link between healthcare and public health.” This two-part discussion examines how public health department and delivery system leaders are navigating the pandemic response, and how we can support an effective public health system for the future. The event featured PHI President and CEO Mary A. Pittman; Greg A. Adams, CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan; Anthony A. Barrueta, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and PHI Board member; and other leading health experts.
  • Report: COVID-19 Contact Networks in Hispanic and Latino Communities: Analysis of Contact Tracing Data from a Large California Healthcare Provider Network (11/29/2021): An analysis from PHI’s Tracing Health and Population Health Innovation Lab revealed how Latinx people experience higher levels COVID-19 transmission risks factors that are beyond their control—including working essential jobs and living in larger households.
  • Webinar Recordings: Telehealth & Medicaid: A Fall 2021 Policy Webinar Series & Summary (11/22/2021): Hosted by PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy in the fall of 2021, this webinar series explores the rapid, ever-changing and complex landscape for telehealth policy in Medicaid, specifically in the context of COVID-19.
  • Report: SNAP-Ed Provided Critical Nutrition Support during the COVID-19 Pandemic (11/16/2021): PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition assessed SNAP-Ed Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) changes implemented by SNAP-Ed programming in the Southeast Region implementing agencies (SER IAs) during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
two people looking at camera, with arms around each other and masks. his jacket says lions

Together Toward Health: Supporting Communities Through COVID-19 and Beyond

Over twenty major philanthropic foundations have pooled resources to launch Together Toward Health, which will connect with community based organizations to expand workforce development opportunities for Californians most impacted by COVID-19, and create and amplify public outreach efforts to reduce its spread.

Find out more

  • Video: How to discuss racial equity in vaccine uptake (11/10/2021): To help ensure equitable vaccination rates in all neighborhoods, public health advocates and practitioners must center communities of color in their messages. Being silent on racism allows vaccine opponents to invoke medical oppression in their communication, stoking further division, hesitancy, and distrust. This video, the third in a series from BMSG, offers strategic communication tips for advancing racial and health equity in immunizations.
image: woman on phone contact tracing

Kaiser Permanente and the Public Health Institute Partner on Clinical Initiative to Support California COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Governor Gavin Newsom announced that Kaiser Permanente has committed $63 million in grant funding to PHI to strengthen and support California’s contact tracing efforts in clinical settings. PHI’s Tracing Health program will hire, train and deploy approximately 500 full-time, culturally and linguistically competent clinically based team members. Collectively, they will be able to contact up to 5,500 people per day.

Learn more about the initiative

  • Press Release: Breakthrough Infection Study of Over 600,000 Veterans Shows Declining COVID-19 Vaccine Protection (10/18/2021): A new pre-print study of over 600,000 veterans by researchers from PHI and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center finds that overall COVID-19 vaccine protection declined significantly between February and August 2021. The authors recommend continued efforts to increase vaccination and a return to additional layers of protection, and note the relevance of the results to ongoing CDC and FDA discussions on booster vaccines.
  • Fresno Teens Fighting COVID Misinformation in the Latino Community (10/4/2021): In Fresno, California, vaccine uptake among eligible youth continues to be lower than other groups. Now a first-of-its kind program for high school students is training them as junior community health workers or “promoteritos,” so teens can help dispel misinformation about COVID-19 and encourage their peers, relatives and neighbors to get vaccinated. The program is co-coordinated by Together Toward Health grantee Cultiva La Salud. Susan Watson of PHI’s Together Toward Health program comments on the role of teens as trusted health care messengers.
  • PHI Statement: “We need to act now to keep students safe”: PHI Statement on CA School Vaccine Guidance (10/1/2021): Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday (10/1) that all California students and school staff will be required to get vaccinated against Covid-19 once vaccines are fully approved by the FDA. “The Public Health Institute supports this statewide science and evidence-based effort to protect the health and safety of California’s students, their families and their communities, but families need a faster timeline than that laid out by the governor today,” said Mary A. Pittman, CEO and President, Public Health Institute.
  • screenshot of Emily HenkeOregon Public Health Institute Responds to COVID-19 Through Contact Tracing (9/21/2021): With COVID-19 cases continuing to overwhelm hospitals, an Oregon nonprofit is helping counties do an essential job better: contact tracing. Through the Tracing Health program, PHI and the Oregon Public Health Institute have trained hundreds of new contact tracers, helping local health departments and assisting people exposed to the coronavirus in getting the financial help they need to be able to quarantine. Emily Henke of OPHI discusses Tracing Health and its overall focus on health equity.
  • California’s Extra Sick Leave Pay for COVID-19 Expiring (9/8/2021): California’s special COVID-19 sick-leave policy is set to expire Sept. 30, a change that is raising fears of new disruptions for communities of color and others disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. In the San Francisco Chronicle, PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California and partners at the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative have implored the state to extend the COVID sick leave policy.
  • Changing Minds: What Moves the Needle for the Unvaccinated? (9/2/2021): With just over 52% of those eligible in the United States fully vaccinated as of September 1, 2021, health care providers and others have a continuing challenge ahead: Trying to convince those who are eligible but still holding out to get vaccinated. Gladys Jimenez, a contract tracer from PHI’s Tracing Health program, describes her work in communicating about vaccines to help end the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Article: As Delta Surges, Contact Tracing Re-Takes COVID Center Stage (8/31/2021): With the COVID-19 Delta variant triggering a dramatic uptick in cases, public health workers and officials nationwide involved in contact tracing have geared back up. Emily Henke, executive director of the Oregon Public Health Institute and director of PHI’s Tracing Health Pacific NW comments on the need for culturally and linguistically appropriate contact tracers and building a public health workforce, to help support economic recovery especially in communities of color.
  • Person receiving COVID-19 vaccinePress Release: Communities RISE Together Partnership to Support Community-Based Organizations in Local COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts in Over 25 States (8/19/2021): In response to inequities in the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in many communities of color compared to white areas, and with the surge in COVID cases due to the more transmissible Delta variant, WE in the World (WE), which convenes the Well Being In the Nation (WIN) Network, and the Public Health Institute are partnering in Communities RISE Together (#CommuntiesRISE), an initiative funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services to promote vaccinations in Black, Asian-American/Pacific-Islander, Latinx, Native-American, rural, immigrant/migrant and low-income older adult populations in more than 220 counties in over 25 states and territories with low vaccination rates.
  • Article: With All Eyes on COVID Vaccination Rates, Funders Nationwide Battle Hesitancy and Inequity (8/19/2021): In Inside Philanthropy, PHI president and CEO Mary Pittman describes working with California philanthropies to form Together Toward Health, to support COVID-19 work by local community organizations throughout the state. PHI’s long-standing relationships with both public health officials and community-based organizations were key in this work with communities most impacted by the pandemic.
  • Tipsheet: Talking about COVID Breakthrough Infections: Recommendations for Public Health Practitioners (8/12/2021): Created by PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group, these messaging guidelines and sample talking points will help you answer questions about breakthrough cases without minimizing your main strategies—getting people vaccinated, wearing masks, and using any other protections your health department has approved.
  • Video: Communicating about vaccines: Investing in trusted messengers (8/12/2021): In the first video in a series, from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group, find strategic communication tips to help public health advocates and practitioners communicate with the public in ways that foster trust.
  • Opinion Piece: Community Partnerships Essential to Combating COVID-19 (7/23/2021): This opinion piece from Kathleen Kelly Janus, a senior advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom and Maricela Rodriguez of the Office of Governor Newsom describes the strong community partnerships that have been built by vaccinating over 20 million Californians that promise to have lasting effects long after this pandemic is over. The authors highlight PHI’s Together Toward Health program for its support of local, community-based groups creating vaccination equity strategies in their neighborhoods
  • Press Release: Rapid COVID-19 Testing Proves a Key Tool for Safer In-Person Learning in California Schools (7/14/2021):  PHI’s Safely Opening Schools (SOS) program is reporting on findings from on-site rapid testing at more than 200 California schools. Rapid tests use simple accurate kits that provide results in 15 minutes and can detect most individuals who are infectious. The SOS findings—which show very low positivity rates and high accuracy of the rapid tests—indicate that on-site testing can contribute to the safety of in-person learning and can build confidence in school safety for parents, students and staff.
  • Podcast: Outbreak Investigation and Response with Danielle Fernandez, MPH (7/5/2021): The latest PHI/CDC Global Health Podcast features Danielle Fernandez, MPH, Global Health Surveillance Fellow with the CDC’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch. She discusses her previous work in outbreak investigation including Ebola and Zika; HIV case surveillance in Tanzania and Zimbabwe; and COVID-19 response.
  • Video: Reaching Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islanders in Vaccine Distribution (6/17/2021): In this Vaccine Equity video, from PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California Vaccine Equity Video Series, hear from Isabella Lesa, Community Health Worker with the Utah County Health Department and Jake Fitisemanu, Co-Founder and Board Member of the Utah Pacific Islander Coalition and Program Manager with the Utah State Department of Health, as they discuss the importance of disaggregated data and culturally grounded efforts in reaching NHPI community members in vaccine distribution.
  • Web Forum Recording: Hesitancy, Equity, and Transparency: In Conversation with Pastor and Lawmaker James D. Gailliard on the COVID-19 Vaccine Roll Out (6/17/2021): In this Dialogue4Health web forum, PHI President and CEO Dr. Mary A. Pittman and Pastor James D. Gailliard, a state representative in the North Carolina Assembly, will reflect upon efforts to achieve equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and explore how faith-based organizations and state policy interventions work toward this goal in North Carolina.
  • Webinar Recording: Disability Inclusion and Considerations in Vaccination Centers and Operations (6/10/2021): This webinar, from PHI’s Pacific ADA Center, will discuss accessibility considerations for vaccination centers centered primarily around physical accessibility, communication access, and programmatic access including staff training and information sharing.
  • Responding to India’s Devastating COVID Surge: Part II (6/7/2021): India’s devastating second wave of coronavirus cases has killed thousands of people each day and overwhelmed the country’s healthcare infrastructure. PHI’s Rise Up Leaders in India have been stepping up to protect their communities, despite these challenges. Learn how Rise Up Leaders are responding to this crisis and how to support their work.
Listos Report cover image of cartoon LAtina woman holding a wrench

Listos California Impact Report: A People-Centered Movement to Build Disaster Resilience

PHI’s Center on Disability’s work in three California communities is featured in Listos California Impact Report: A People-Centered Movement to Build Disaster Resilience, which highlights successful strategies to support the state’s diverse and most vulnerable populations to prepare for disasters like wildfires, earthquakes and floods, and for public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the report

  • Presentation on COVID, Asthma and Safe Schools (5/18/2021): This presentation from PHI’s RAMP, hosted by Naomi Bardach, MD MAS, reviews California recommendations for safe re-opening and provides community health workers and other asthma educators with information to help them communicate with the families with asthma that they serve.
  • vaccine centerVideo: Reaching Transgender Community Members in Vaccine Distribution (5/13/2021): In this Vaccine Equity video, from PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California Vaccine Equity Video Series, watch Hieu Nguyen, Director of the Orange County Health Care Agency Office of Population Health & Equity, and Khloe Rios Wyatt, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alianza Translatinx, discuss the importance of creating safe, inclusive, affirming spaces for transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary community members in COVID-19 vaccination distribution and administration.
  • Webinar Recording: Prepared4ALL: Whole Community Emergency Planning (5/13/2021): Disasters and emergencies, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, disproportionately affect Americans with disabilities, chronic and mental health conditions (PWD). Check out this webinar, from PHI’s Pacific ADA Center, to learn about AUCD’s Prepared4ALL—a public health campaign to link disability organizations and PWD to local emergency management and public health preparedness agencies. Prepared4ALL aims to increase the number of PWD and disability organizations that are actively engaged in local emergency/public health preparedness planning efforts.
  • Web Forum Recording: Hesitancy, Equity, and Transparency: Rolling out the COVID-19 Vaccine (5/6/2021): Trust and trustworthiness are a significant part of achieving equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Tune in to hear from moderator Dr. Mary Pittman, PHI CEO & President, and speakers—including Dr. Bechara Choucair, Vaccinations Coordinator for the White House COVID Response Team, responsible for overseeing the national vaccination efforts under the Biden-Harris administration—to learn how policymakers, health care providers, pharmacies, and community-based organizations can build trust, address population-specific needs, leverage trusted community resources and more.
  • Webinar Recording: Vaccine Access for People with Disabilities: Guidance, Funding, Strategies, and Best Practices (4/22/2021): Watch this webinar recording from PHI’s Pacific ADA Center to hear Alison Barkoff and HHS’s Office for Civil Rights Acting Director Robinsue Frohboese discuss information on guidance, funding, strategies and best practices related to vaccine access for people with disabilities.
  • Video: Improving Vaccination Accessibility for Individuals Living with Disabilities (4/16/2021): In this Vaccine Equity video, from PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California Vaccine Equity Video Series, watch how health leaders from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity—in partnership with key community stakeholders with lived experience and organizations that serve communities with disabilities—have developed and are working to implement a set of core recommendations to improve access to COVID-19 vaccinations for individuals living with disabilities.
  • Bringing Vaccine Clinics to Faith Congregations (4/23/2021): PHI’s Together Toward Health (TTH) funds outreach efforts in 300+ organizations in communities across the state that have been hard-hit by COVID and are under-reached by vaccine and prevention efforts. CBS Sacramento profiles how TTH and the state are partnering with 200 faith-based organizations to provide more than 25,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses at pop-up clinics right in neighborhood places of worship.
  • Webinar Recording: ADA National Network Special Session: Vaccine Access for People with Disabilities: Guidance, Funding, Strategies, and Best Practices (4/22/2021): Watch this webinar recording from PHI’s Pacific ADA Center to hear Alison Barkoff and HHS’s Office for Civil Rights Acting Director Robinsue Frohboese discuss information on guidance, funding, strategies and best practices related to vaccine access for people with disabilities.
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Achieving Vaccine Equity: Resources & Best Practices to Bringing Down Barriers

Find tools, resources and best practices to support your community's efforts in addressing barriers in accessing vaccines—including ease of access, a desire for more and culturally-relevant information, and the need to hear from a trusted messenger.

View the vaccine equity resources

  • Punjabi Sikh Truckers Lack Access To COVID-19 Information (4/9/2021): While Punjabi Sikhs make up 20 percent of the country’s truckers and control as much as 40 percent of the industry in California, few public health departments in the state offer critical COVID-related information in the Punjabi language. Funded in part by PHI’s Together Toward Health program, the Fresno-based Jakara Movement has been translating important health information into Punjabi and leading outreach and vaccination efforts in the Punjabi community.
  • Grassroots Effort Helping Thousands in Monterey County Hit Hard by the Pandemic (4/1/2021): With support from PHI’s Together Toward Health program, a coalition of community groups in Monterey County have trained more than 100 community health workers who are reaching 7,000 people a month and providing critical information on COVID-19 in English, Spanish and several indigenous languages like Triqui, Zapoteco and Mixteco that many migrant farmworkers speak.
  • Woman getting COVID-19 vaccineBeating the Pavement to Vaccinate the Underrepresented — And Protect Everyone (4/1/2021): Susan Watson, program director for PHI’s Together Toward Health program, discusses the need to provide long-term support for community-based organizations who are doing essential health work in this piece from California Healthline. The story features El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center, a Together Toward Health grantee, and their work in providing vaccination clinics in hard to reach rural communities.
  • Webinar: Partnering with Communities to Navigate Equitable Vaccine Access (3/25/2021): In this CDC Foundation webinar, presenters discuss their work with community-based organizations, as they collaborate on ways to navigate what can be a difficult path toward getting the community vaccinated. Featuring Susan Watson, director of PHI’s Together Toward Health.
  • Webinar Recording: How Crisis Standards of Care Can Ensure Equity for People with Disabilities During Times of Crisis (3/25/2021): As hospitals around the country are stretched to their limit by increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients, many find themselves unable to provide the usual standard of care. Hosted by PHI’s Pacific ADA Center, this webinar addresses the ways in which Crisis Standards of Care can be written and implemented to safeguard equity for people with disabilities as well as communities of color.
  • Telehealth & Medicaid: A Winter 2021 Policy Webinar Series & Summary (3/24/2021): Developed by PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy, this webinar series focuses on the rapid telehealth policy ever-changing and complex landscape for telehealth policy in Medicaid, specifically in the context of COVID-19.
  • Man wearing face mask pointing at woman's computerSupporting Health Departments in Communicating About Equity During a Pandemic: In 2020, PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) worked with local health departments across California to enhance their capacity to communicate effectively about COVID-19 to policymakers, the public, and California families and communities most at risk from COVID, with the aim of addressing racial and health inequities during the pandemic.
  • PHI CEO Mary Pittman Featured in Modern Healthcare on “Lessons for the Next Public Health Disaster” (3/17/2021): In Modern Healthcare, Mary Pittman, DrPH, CEO and President of PHI discusses how undervaluing of public health impeded the nation’s ability to manage the pandemic early on and describes PHI’s work in leading equity-based responses to COVID-19.
  • Early Data from Public Health Institute’s “Safely Opening Schools” Pilot Indicate Utility of Rapid COVID-19 Testing as Schools Reopen (3/16/2021): PHI reports promising early data from Safely Opening Schools (SOS), an on-site, rapid COVID-19 screening pilot that began in January in eleven California school districts. Data from the first eight districts where testing has started shows that out of the first 3256 tests conducted, there have been only 7 positive tests—just 0.21 percent.
man handing antibacterial to woman in line

Video Series: Promising Practices for Equitable Vaccine Distribution (3/14/2021)

A new video series from PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California elevates promising and replicable practices for equitable vaccine distribution. The videos showcase real-life community-informed and equity-centered practices that reach disproportionately impacted low-income Californians and Californians of color, including "Vaccine Equity in Long Beach" and "Riverside Vaccinates Farmworkers."

Watch the Video Series

  • Dr. Nadine Burke HarrisPodcast: California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris Discusses COVID-19 Vaccine Equity with the New York Times (3/12/2021): On the New York Times podcast “The Ezra Klein Show,” Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the first surgeon general of California, discussed the state’s process for equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, including the use of the Healthy Places Index, a tool created by PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California.
  • California to Offer Affordable Rapid COVID Tests to School Districts Returning to Campus (3/11/2021): A virtual meeting led by State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond discussed PHI’s Safely Opening Schools pilot, which uses on-site, rapid COVID-19 screening to aid school reopening efforts in California. The pilot and availability of testing for school districts was covered by the Sacramento Bee, ABC-TV Fresno and other media outlets.
  • Together Toward Health Supports Local Organizations in Fresno (3/11/2021): PHI’s Together Toward Health (TTH) and the Fresno County Department of Public Health are partnering with community based organizations for Covid-19 education and outreach in rural communities. TTH announced it is awarding a total of $400,000 to five Fresno-area community-based organizations to promote their efforts.
  • Volunteers helping people get vaccinatedLocal Nonprofits Stepping Up to Bolster COVID Vaccination, Education Efforts (3/8/2021): PHI’s Together Toward Health is supporting five Fresno-area community-based organizations that are on the front line of the COVID-19 education and advocacy efforts, to provide COVID-19 messaging, education and outreach to hard-to-reach communities in the rural county.
  • Blog: From Misinformation to Missing Infrastructure: Overcoming Barriers to COVID-19 Vaccination (3/4/2021): Headlines about misinformation and vaccine hesitancy may be overshadowing the bigger problem of structural barriers and a fractured health care system, which are major reasons why members of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and other communities of color — among those hardest hit by COVID-19 — have not received their share of vaccines. This blog from PHI’s BMSG shares tips for achieving effective COVID-19 vaccine messaging.
  • chils wearing mask reading bookHow One District Built a Comprehensive COVID-19 Testing Program in a Month (3/2/2021): As more schools are looking to add or expand COVID-19 testing as another layer of prevention from outbreaks, PHI’s Safely Opening Schools has begun a pilot project in some California school districts that are moving to reopen with in-person classes. In Merced, the program is working with McSwain Union Elementary School District offering twice-weekly testing to all students and staff, providing valuable data and helping the schools open more safely.
  • PHI Press Release: Governor Newsom Highlights Public Health Institute COVID-19 Equity Outreach and Education Initiative (2/26/2021): As vaccines roll out across the country, it has become clear in many places that the people who need them most—including non-English speakers, essential workers, and Black and brown communities who are dying at disproportionate rates—simply aren’t able to access them. Whether it is navigating confusing sign-ups, needing a car, or just being able to take time off of work, the barriers are in the system itself, and it means that privilege and resources are linked to access.  PHI’s Together Toward Health (TTH) is changing that, by supporting 180 community-based organizations that are working as trusted experts in their communities to provide COVID-19 education, testing and vaccination access. In Fresno, Governor Newsom highlighted the state’s partnership with PHI and 18 major California philanthropic organizations on the $30 million initiative.
  • PHI’s COVID-19 Response Highlighted in Stanford Social Innovation Review (2/18/2021): A piece by Kathleen Kelly Janus, a senior advisor on social innovation to Governor Gavin Newsom, highlights PHI’s work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including our Tracing Health contact tracing program and Together Toward Health, which supports community-based organizations in heavily impacted areas and vaccination efforts in hard to reach communities.
  • Webinar Recording: A Closer Look: COVID-19 Accessible Materials for People with Disabilities Project (2/11/2021): COVID-19 has disproportionately affected many groups, including the 61 million people in the United States living with a disability. Watch this webinar recording from PHI’s Pacific ADA Center, as part of the COVID-19 Accessible Materials for People with Disabilities project, to learn strategies, and solutions for people with disabilities as they continue to live, learn, work, and play during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Headshot of NeetuPodcast: From Ebola to COVID-19: Life as a Behavioral Scientist at CDC with Dr. Neetu Abad (2/10/2021): Neetu Abad, PhD is a Behavioral Scientist for the Immunization Systems Branch at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, and serves as a mentor for the PHI/CDC Global Health Fellowship Program. She has worked at CDC for over 10 years and holds a PhD in social psychology. In this podcast, she discusses her path to global health and her work on vaccines and outbreaks as a Behavioral Scientist, from responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to her current work on the COVID-19 response in the US.
  • Private Payer Telehealth Coverage During the COVID-19 Pandemic (1/20/2021): The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a renewed focus on the United States’ insurance-based health care system. In March 2020, the largest U.S. health insurers announced that they would waive cost-sharing obligations for COVID-19 tests and treatment, including for telehealth visits. In this report, PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy’s staff analyzed coverage policies and bulletins for the largest U.S. private payers and summarized the findings.

  • Going Viral: Marta Induni Joins Paula Poundstone to Discuss Contact Tracing (1/14/2021): With the surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., contact tracing has become vital in stopping COVID-19. Tune in for this episode of Nobody listens to Paula Poundstone, to hear PHI’s Marta Induni discuss PHI’s Tracing Health—one of the earliest contact tracing initiatives in the U.S.—and how the initiative helps support communities that have been most adversely affected.

  • Anyie LiPodcast: Vaccine Introduction as a Fellow and Epidemiologist at CDC with Anyie Li, MPH (1/4/2021): In this episode of PHI/CDC’s Global Health Podcast, Fellow Anyie Li, MPH, Epidemiologist and CDC Foundation Field Employee for the Vaccine Introduction Team, within CDC’s Center for Global Health, discusses her first exposure to public health working on the Thailand/Myanmar border with refugees, as well as her current work on the HPV vaccine and COVID-19 response.
  • Web Forum Recording: Mental Health First Aid in Schools: Connecting Public Health, Policy, & Equity in COVID-19 (12/15/2020): The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of all age groups. Watch PHI’s Dialogue4Health’s Web Forum recording to hear about lessons learned from the 2020 school year and potential approaches for 2021, how communities, advocates, researchers and policymakers can partner with one another to implement Mental Health First Aid during the pandemic, and evidence-based strategies to improve mental health equity through Mental Health First Aid.
  • Communicating about the COVID-19 Vaccines: Guidance and Sample Messages for Public Health Practitioners (12/10/2020): As we get closer to the distribution of vaccines for COVID-19, policymakers and the public are seeking information and voicing questions about their safety and efficacy. Public health practitioners at health departments and elsewhere can play an important role in addressing concerns and building trust to support the equitable rollout of vaccinations. This new resource from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group contains tips to help public health leaders communicate more clearly and effectively about vaccines.
  • aerial shot of homes on a streetFactsheet: Community Development Factsheets: Mental Health, Social Isolation & Homelessness (12/9/2020): Homelessness has become even more prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic. This factsheet, the third in a three-part series, from PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network, dives deep into how community development and health collaborations can address a key social determinant of health, homelessness.
  • Podcast: “Is Covid-19 Outpacing Test and Contact Tracing?” (10/26/2020): On this A Shot in the Arm Podcast episode, Dr. Marta Induni of PHI’s Tracing Health program discusses whether COVID-19 testing and contact tracing programs are reaching the people in need, what have we learned, and where we go from here.
video screenshot of Dr. Adaeze Enekweki, Dr. MAy Pittman, and Dr. Lisa Simpson

Web Forum Recording: Connecting Public Health, Policy, & Equity in COVID-19: An Executive Conversation (10/20/2020)

In this Dialogue4Health Web Forum, join PHI President Mary Pittman, IMPAQ President and PHI Board Member Adaeze Enekwechi, and Academy Health President Lisa Simpson to hear how leaders are grappling with issues of health equity during the COVID-19 crisis and where they see opportunities for progress.

Watch the Web Forum Recording

  • Blog: Meeting People Where They Are: Delivering Culturally Congruent Health Messages (10/1/2020): Jahn Jaramillo, MPH, is a 3rd year PHI/CDC Global Health Surveillance Fellow for the Division of Global Health Protection within CDC’s Central America Regional office in Guatemala. In this blog, Jaramillo points out how implementing effective messages can create healthy choices, and even save lives.
  • PHI Statement on Updated CDC Testing Guidance (9/18/2020): Statement from Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, CEO and President, Public Health Institute regarding the CDC’s COVID-19 testing guidance revisions.
  • Tracking Environmental and Health Disparities to Strengthen Resilience Before the Next CrisisTracking Environmental and Health Disparities to Strengthen Resilience Before the Next Crisis (9/15/2020): COVID-19 has disproportionately affected low-income and communities of color. PHI’s Catalina Garzón-Galvis and Dr. Gina M. Solomon co-authored this article, published online in a special issue of the Environmental Justice Journal on Disparities in Times of a Pandemic or Epidemic, to highlight how environmental community-engaged data collection and reporting can help improve public health tracking to reduce health disparities and strengthen community resilience.
  • Community Development Factsheets: Mental Health, Social Isolation & Homelessness (9/9/2020): Mental health, social isolation and homelessness are three of our most insidious social challenges that have been on the rise over recent decades, and have become even more prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Created by PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network and NeighborWorks America, this factsheet series explores the important role of community development in addressing these three major health challenges in our country.
  • Tips for Communicating about Masks in the Midst of Misinformation (9/3/2020): As mask mandates become more common, local health departments are increasingly seeking ways to overcome the challenges they face in supporting residents in adhering to such mandates. PHI’s Berkeley Media Study Group offers tips to help.
  • image: man contact tracing from homeBuilding trust and equity in contact tracing: Interview with Tracing Health’s Dr. Marta Induni (8/19/2020): PHI’s Tracing Health program was one of the earliest COVID-19 contact tracing initiatives in the country. Dr. Marta Induni, head of Tracing Health, discusses how systemic racism and health inequities contribute to COVID-19 rates among Black and Latinx people, how Tracing Health is addressing these issues, and what success looks like.

  • Web Forum Recording: Addressing Social Isolation and Long-Term Care through Telehealth During COVID-19 (8/18/2020): The COVID-19 pandemic has left a specific group of people enduring a double pandemic. Older adults, many who already endured social isolation prior to COVID-19, are more alone than ever before. This isolation can lead to increased health risks, including those already living with chronic illnesses. This Web Forum will address the growing issue of social isolation and long-term care in older adults, the many ways providers are working to combat this issue, and the roadblocks of current health management in older adults that have increased due to the shift to telemedicine.

  • Webinar Recording: FEMA Perspective on Emergency Management, COVID-19 and People with Disabilities (8/13/2020): This webinar, Hosted by PHI’s Pacific ADA Center, provides an overview of FEMA’s roles and responsibilities in the midst of COVID-19; explore how FEMA continues to serve people with disabilities during that response; and discuss planning and preparing for the 2020 natural disaster season.

  • screenshot of Marta Induni during interviewInterview with Tracing Health’s Dr. Marta Induni: Giving people in contact with COVID-19 the support they need to stay at home (8/3/2020): Contact tracing is a critical tool for suppressing COVID-19, but how much do you know about it? We sat down with Dr. Marta Induni, of PHI’s Tracing Health initiative, who talked about how it works, how they keep information protected, and how they help people stay at home when they need to. “We will liaison with the counties and get them the support they need. They might need that rent assistance or they might need help with grocery delivery or a pharmacy delivery, where someone can just drop something off on their porch. We will help them problem solve.” Read Part 1 of our interview with her, along with video clips.
  • Brief: Barriers & Challenges to FQHC Use of Telehealth for Substance Use Disorder | An Examination of Policies Affecting FQHCs Pre- and During the COVID-19 Emergency (7/31/2020): This issue brief from PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy explores the policy changes that need to be made in order for federally qualified health centers to utilize telehealth to address the opioid crisis, and provides a comparison of reimbursement and prescribing policies both prior to and following the onset of the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Embedding Equity into Emergency Operations: Strategies for Local Health Departments During COVID-19 & Beyond (7/29/2020): Released by PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California and BARHII, this brief outlines case studies, resources, and priority recommendations that counties and cities can take to explicitly and intentionally embed equity staff and practices into their emergency operations structures and throughout the public health emergency response and recovery process.
  • Rise Up Leaders on the Frontlines: A People-Centered Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Africa (7/28/2020): The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress made on the economic, social, and development front in Africa. After booming economic growth across the continent, Africa could face its first economic recession in 25 years. The indirect impacts are already being felt, including lack of medical supplies, loss of livelihoods, growing food insecurity, a sudden increase in out-of-school children along with inequitable access to supplementary education, and a rise in political insecurity. In Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa, leaders with PHI’s Rise Up are working hard to ensure the voices and wellbeing of women, girls, and youth are not left out of the COVID-19 conversation, that their rights continue to be protected, and the world emerges from this pandemic more just and equal.
Mary Pittman, CEO and President of PHI

PHI CEO Mary Pittman Discusses Public Health’s National Reckoning in Forbes (7/27/2020)

In Forbes, PHI President and CEO Mary A. Pittman discusses our national reckoning on public health—and how it's shaped COVID-19, racial justice and more. Plus, she dives into the systemic health issues being highlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic, and the bright spots where individuals and communities are stepping up with urgency, compassion and solidarity.

Read the piece

  • Web Forum Recording: Colliding Crises: Meeting Leadership Challenges of COVID-19 (7/28/2020): The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a new set of roadblocks for overdose prevention. Join PHI’s Dialogue4Health for their first Web Forum in their Colliding Crises series to hear how communities in California, the Northeast, and West Virginia are adapting to work smarter together in this new climate.
  • Web Forum Recording: Telehealth in the Workforce: Practical Strategies to Help Prepare Patients and Providers During COVID-19 and Beyond (7/21/2020): In this Web Forum from PHI’s Dialogue4Health, presenters highlight strategies for rapid onboarding of telehealth staff, with a specific focus on critical issues for engaging health care staff in response to COVID-19. Speakers also discuss practical strategies, tips and case studies for organizations to use to improve patient engagement for telemedicine services.
  • Webinar Recording: Telehealth and the 5G Revolution (7/17/2020): In this Axios webinar, PHI’s Mei Wa Kwong, executive director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy, discusses telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, shifts in the use of telemedicine, and future gains from 5G technology.

  • Defining the ‘New Normal’ and Creating an Equitable Recovery after COVID-19 (7/14/2020): COVID-19 has plunged the country into a crisis, and as the pandemic lays reveals deepest inequities, we continue to face a reckoning with the nation’s legacy of racism. But with every disaster comes an opportunity to chart a different future with new urgency and voices. In this Crosswalk essay published on Medium, PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network explores how leaders in community development and health see the future after the coronavirus.

  • Web Forum Recording: Ensuring Health Equity During and Beyond COVID-19: Addressing Housing and Homelessness (7/10/2020): People who are housing insecure or experience homelessness typically have poorer physical and mental health outcomes and are at greater risk for infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. PHI’s Dialogue4Health Web Forum highlights the disproportionate and long-existing economic and health disparities among people who are housing insecure or experience homelessness and what is currently being done to protect this population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • PHI & Other Leading Health Organizations Urge Support for CDC’s Critical Role in the COVID-19 Pandemic Response (7/7/2020): PHI and nearly 350 other public health organizations urge HHS Secretary Azar to support CDC’s critical role in the COVID-19 pandemic response. See the full letter.
  • Communicating about Housing and COVID-19: Tips for Responding to Reporters (7/6/2020): Housing policy is complex—even moreso during COVID-19. Communicating about it can be tricky, especially when you are talking with a reporter. Still, just because you aren’t in full control of the message doesn’t mean you can’t shape the narrative. PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group provides tips to help advocates craft effective messages to shape the narrative around housing and health.
  • Rise Up Leaders on the Frontlines in the U.S.: Calling for Change in Our Own Backyard During COVID-19 (7/2/2020): Across the U.S., girls, women, and youth are significantly impacted by but often left out of decisions about our response to crises like COVID-19 and solutions for community safety. In California, Mississippi, and Louisiana, Rise Up Leaders are taking a stand and fighting for the rights and wellbeing of women, girls, and youth. Read insights from Rise Up Leaders in the United States on the effects of the pandemic on their communities and their work to advance gender equity.
  • Resources on Communicating about COVID-19 (7/1/2020): PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group is creating and compiling resources to help public health advocates, staff in local health departments, and others communicate more effectively about COVID-19 and how it intersects with other important public health issues. As we develop new resources, we’ll add them to this page.
  • Web Forum Recording: Mobilizing Local Cannabis Tax Revenue in the COVID-19 Era (6/29/2020):  In the era of COVID-19 when local budgets and staff are being severely cut, and critical social needs go unmet, reasonable local cannabis taxation could provide a much-needed source of revenue. Among the speakers, PHI’s Lynn Silver shared new research on how these products are being taxed and regulated in California’s 539 cities and counties, how to tax cannabis commerce locally, how current cannabis tax revenues are primarily benefitting law enforcement and offers some alternative approaches for capturing revenue to benefit youth and communities and meet local needs.
Orange County Health Care Agency Officer Dr. Nichole Quick during a news conference in Santa Ana, CA, to announce the county’s first coronavirus (COVID-19) death on Wednesday, Mar 25, 2020 (File photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

When the truth becomes the threat: Standing in Support of our Public Health Officials (6/22/2020)

Across the country, local public health officials in charge of COVID-19 policy are facing a double challenge: responsibility for managing the deadly pandemic and a politicization of their work that puts their own lives and the health of their communities at risk.

"Instead of bulletproof vests and security details, our local public health officials deserve the protection and support of those who appointed them, and of those they serve," say Mary Pittman, DrPH, PHI president and CEO; Tracy Delaney, PhD, executive director of PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California; and Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, former Los Angeles County health officer and professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. "What we need now—from state leadership, from local and state elected officials, from healthcare and from the public—is a clarion call of solidarity, cooperation and concrete support of public health policy."

Read the full statement and take action

  • Web Forum Recording: Telehealth Policy and Reimbursement Issues in the Era of COVID-19: Perspectives from the US, Scandinavia & France (6/23/2020): Catch the recording of this Dialogue4Health Web Forum, which discusses telemedicine policy regulations and patient/provider reimbursement, featuring case studies from the US, Denmark and France. Presenters include Mei Wa Kwong, director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy.
  • screenshot: video Providing Services via Telephone during COVID-19Video Series on Telehealth & COVID-19 (Updated 6/23/2020): See new videos from PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy addressing the latest updates about the telehealth policies and COVID-19. Topics include CMS COVID-19 Telehealth Policy Updates to Medicare; Providing Services via Telephone during COVID-19; State Telehealth Policy & COVID-19; and more.
  • Investing in Our Local Health Departments: How Our Funding Decisions Today Will Determine California’s Future (6/20/2020): Over the past decade alone, local and state health departments lost 20% of their workforce, and local health department budgets shrank by as much as 24%. PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California released a brief Investing In Our Local Health Departments, jam-packed with data, infographics, and key messaging around the history of public health funding cuts and a call to action for investing in a resilient and robust public health system.
  • Tool: Tracking COVID-19 Related Telehealth State Actions (6/16/2020): As a result of COVID-19, many states have taken action to temporarily remove policy barriers to telehealth utilization. A new tracking tool from PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy compiles actions taken by each state’s Office of the Governor, Medicaid Program, Medical Board and/or Department of Insurance, and their current status.
  • Podcast: Mitigating COVID-19 & Supporting CDC Zambia with Robyn Bernstein, MPH (6/11/2020): PHI/CDC Surveillance Fellow, Robyn Bernstein, MPH, discusses her experience with CDC Zambia’s Division of Global HIV & Tuberculosis. Robyn also elaborates on her time as Strategic Information Coordinator for the COVID-19 International Task Force- Strategic Information Unit Mitigation Team, part of CDC’s Emergency Operations Center.
  • Community Development & Health: COVID-19 Response and Resources (6/10/20): PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network curated and reviewed resources from the community development and health sectors, and categorized the best of what they found into several themes, with an emphasis on cross-sector collaboration. These themes reflect the Principles for Building Healthy and Prosperous Communities, which focus on achieving an equitable future where good health and fair opportunity are outcomes for all.
  • COVID-19 Equity Snapshots (5/29/2020): Created by PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California, the COVID-19 Equity Snapshot series is designed to help communities address critical equity concerns emerging as a result of the pandemic in real-time. Topics include: Advancing a Welcoming & Inclusive Framework in Response to COVID-19; Advancing Health Justice Strategies to Combat COVID-19; Steps to Advance Racial Equity in Response to COVID-19; Food Security as Equity; Advancing Health Equity for Individuals and Families Experiencing Homelessness; and Using Data to Advance Equity.
  • Podcast: Mapping COVID-19 & Building Global Health Capacity with Greg Chang, MPH (5/28/2020): PHI/CDC Surveillance Fellow, Greg Chang, MPH, discusses his experience serving on CDC’s International Epidemiology Team responding to COVID-19 and his work on Population-based HIV Impact Assessments with the Division of Global HIV & Tuberculosis for CDC’s Center for Global Health.
  • Resources for SNAP-Ed Implementing Agencies During COVID-19 (5/28/2020): To help SNAP-Ed agencies address the COVID-19 pandemic, PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition provides guidance on ways to continue to support the public and their programs, while prioritizing the safety and health of staff, partners, clients, and community members.
  • Web Forum Recording: Lessons Learned: Ramping Up Telehealth Services During COVID-19 (5/26/2020): Serving patients remotely is no longer a matter of convenience, it is imperative for patients and providers alike to provide just in time care in a safe and secure manner.  Tune in to hear PHI’s Dialogue4Health and presenters share in-depth practices and policies assembled by an interdisciplinary team of global experts in telehealth and health care delivery, with a specific focus on vulnerable populations like older adults.
  • Web Forum Recording: COVID-19 and the Impact on Communities of Color: Our Nation’s Inequities Exposed (5/20/2020): Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, communities of color already faced inequitable opportunities for health and well-being. This Dialogue4Health Web Forum recording highlights the disproportionate impact on communities of color, and the short- and long-term efforts needed to address this impact. There is also a focus on the recent federal legislation and state actions in response to COVID-19.
  • Telehealth Policy in a Post-COVID-19 World (5/19/2020): COVID-19 has significantly impacted all aspects of our lives, including access to medical care. Mei Kwong, director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy, shares an assessment of which temporary telehealth policy changes are likely to remain in place, and identifies key issues moving forward including reimbursement policies, internet access, HIPAA/privacy concerns and more.
  • Web Forum Recording: Mental Health and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Complicates Current Gaps in Care and What Can Be Done (5/6/2020): The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges and aggravated existing obstacles to mental health care and well-being. This Web Forum from PHI’s Dialogue4Health’s discussed the unique challenges for mental health in the wake of COVID-19. Viewers will learn about current advocacy efforts to improve the mental health system, what specialized resources in response to the pandemic have been released to date, and what else may be needed.
  • Webinar Recording: Network Commons: Why Investing in Communities Matters More than Ever in the Time of Coronavirus (5/6/2020): View PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network’s webinar recording of a conversation with three inspirational leaders representing the community development, finance and healthcare sectors that are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis. There is also an interactive conversation with audience questions and answers to explore the critical role community development work plays in supporting resilience and healthy communities.

“In planning for recovery, we must call for a new, more just and equitable society, one that centers communities over corporate profit, and that ensures that all people—regardless of race/ethnicity, culture, class, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or ability—have the full opportunity to achieve optimal health and wellbeing.”
– ENACT Day 2020 policy statement from PHI’s CA4Health and partners

  • Beyond COVID-19 Recovery: Restructuring for a Healthy and Equitable California (5/15/2020): A policy statement from PHI’s CA4Health and other ENACT Day partners identifies four key policy areas for an equitable, inclusive, and community-led response and recovery to the COVID-19 crisis: Healthy food access; healthy and accessible communities; justice for immigrant communities; and preventing violence and trauma.
  • PHI Statement on California May Budget Revise (5/14/2020): “Like economies and governments around the globe, the state of California faces hard choices when it comes to protecting the health of its residents in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that has devastated lives, health and the economy,” writes Matthew Marsom, PHI VP of Public Policy and Programs. “One thing is clear: we need more, not less, investment in public health to steer us to the other side of this crisis and avoid dire impacts, particularly within communities of color and low-income Californians.”
  • New Tool: Interactive Map Pinpoints Urgent Needs of Vulnerable Populations Through the COVID CrisisHPI COVID Map screenshot (5/12/2020): PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California has released the COVID-19 Healthy Places Index Resource Map, a powerful interactive online tool that exposes how the COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating existing health disparities based on race, poverty, and other socioeconomic and environmental factors.
  • Podcast: COVID-19 & the Cruise Ship Task Force with Riley Wagner, MPH (5/6/2020): Tune in to a the first podcast from the PHI/CDC Global Health Program, which features Riley Wagner, MPH  as she discusses her experience on CDC’s Emergency Operations Center and elaborates on her work with the Cruise Ship Task Force.

“Solidarity is key in supporting our vulnerable communities—this means coming together out of love for each other and really listening to what our community needs as well as working together to create a safer, healthier, and caring community.”
—Edith Romero, United States (Louisiana), PHI Rise Up Leader

  • Rise Up Leaders on the Frontlines of COVID-19 (5/4/2020): PHI’s Rise Up activates women and girls to transform their lives, families and communities for a more just and equitable world. In the first of a new series, Rise Up Leaders from across the globe discuss the effects of COVID-19 on their communities and their work to advance gender equity.
  • Tip Sheet: Communicating about Racial Equity and COVID-19: Connecting Data to Context (5/1/2020): Without background knowledge or proper context, when people hear statistics about racial disparities in COVID-19 outcomes, they are likely to attribute the cause to individual behavior. This tip sheet from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group offers suggestions for incorporating the bigger picture into storytelling to help audiences understand the systemic causes of—and solutions to—inequities.
  • COVID-19: Local Health Department Needs in Southern California (4/30/2020): What do local health departments need in order to effectively address COVID-19? New findings from PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California identify increased lab testing and capacity; strategies to pivot from containment to mitigation; dedicated local funding; ways to address racism and xenophobia; communications to communities; guidance on staffing; and multi-sector coordination.
  • Telehealth Coverage Policies in the Time of COVID-19 to Date (4/30/2020—3pm PT): The federal administration and major health insurers are updating telehealth technologies, legislation and reimbursement policies to make it easier for communities to monitor, test and prevent the spread of COVID-19. PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy provides a summary of the changes to telehealth covered by Medicare, Medicaid, various public and private payers, as well as state updates. As of 4/30/2020, CCHP has also released an additional fact sheet on Federally Qualified Health Centers & Rural Health Clinics Acting as Distant Site Providers in Medicare.
  • Web Forum Recording: ADA National Network Learning Session: COVID19, Health Care, and the ADA (4/23/2020): In this webinar, ADA National Network staff reviewed general health care provisions in the ADA and how they apply to the COVID-19 pandemic such as temporary medical facilities, drive-thru testing sites, and other current health care issues.
  • Close Off Some Streets—for the Health of the Public (4/22/2020): Slow streets are regular neighborhood streets that have been closed to through traffic in order to allow residents to “safely walk, wheelchair roll and jog in traffic lanes, as well as on narrow sidewalks, providing enough space to safely socially distance,” write SPUR’s Robert Ogilvie, Public Health Advocates’ Harold Goldstein and PHI’s Mary A. Pittman. “They start to equalize the opportunity to be safely outside for disadvantaged communities that lack parks and other open space.” Read their San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.

Podcast: Public Health on the Line (4/16/2020):Which countries’ public health responseshave worked and which ones have floundered? In this episode of A Shot In the Arm Podcast, made in partnership with the Bay Area image: CEO Mary Pittman podcastGlobal Health Alliance, Mary Pittman, President and CEO of the Public Health Institute joins Michele Barry, Senior Dean for Global Health &the Director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University to discuss global-to-local impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together they analyze different epidemic strategies and what the lessons the USA urgently needs to hear.

See the podcast

  • A Call to Action: Here is How to Create A Better Post COVID-19 World (4/17/2020): In a world of cascading disasters, Roots of Change is reframing all current projects to deliver one vital thing: models of action that build community-based resilience. This means working with community members to demand processes, plans, projects that include specific recommendations for new and expanded resilience-building policies by governments at all levels. See more of their vision for a better post-COVID-19 world.
  • Telehealth Is Grabbing the Pandemic Spotlight. Can California Do More to Help It Grow?: A Q&A with telehealth policy expert Mei Wa Kwong (4/16/2020)Mei Wa Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy at the Public Health Institute, talks to the California Healthcare Foundation about the gaps—and opportunities—for implementing telehealth in California.
  • Web Forum Recording: “Protecting Older Adults from the Harms of Social Isolation and Providing a Continuum of Care During COVID-19” (4/15/2020): See the recording from a PHI Dialogue4Health Web Forum with Trust for America’s Health, exploring how to address the unique challenges that older adults face while adhering to public health advice to minimize risk of infection. Learn about the consequences of social isolation, how the aging services sector has adapted its delivery models, and hear about promising practices from the field and the importance of working with public health partners to address the needs of older adults.
  • COVID-19, Asthma, and Equity (4/13/2020—Updated): See updates from PHI’s Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) program on COVID-19 risk for people with asthma, asthma management, and the disproportionate impact of asthma and the coronavirus on low-income communities and communities of color.
  • Make A Mask. Share A Mask. Wear A Mask. (4/10/2020): Utilizing evidence from China and elsewhere we are learning that masks may reduce the viral load if one comes in contact with an infected individual and can reduce transmission if image: face masks instructionsyou yourself are infected but asymptomatic. The recent CDC recommendation to use a mask when leaving one’s home for necessities like food seems like good public health advice. PHI encourages everyone to follow CDC recommendations to physically distance themselves by staying at home as a first step, and then to use a mask (even a bandana over your nose and mouth) when exiting your residence to access or perform essential services. Find out how to make your own.
  • Webinar Recording: Tenant Protections (4/6/2020): Tenant protections are a core part of RAMP’s work to promote stable and healthy housing, and the coronavirus outbreak has only reinforced the importance of such protections. In partnership with Health Leads’ Bay Area Healthcare for Healthy Communities Learning Initiative (BALI), PHI’s Regional Asthma Management and Prevention hosted a presentation on tenant protections providing an update on new-in-2020 and COVID-specific tenant protection laws and policies.
  • Webinar Recording: Virtual Asthma Home Visits (4/3/2020): Given the risks of the coronavirus pandemic and the wide-spread shelter in place orders, asthma home visiting programs are developing new ways to serve people with poorly controlled asthma. PHI’s Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) program hosted a webinar to learn more about virtual asthma home visits, share resources, and try to solve challenges related to implementation. The webinar recording is now available, as are the presentation slides and a wide range of other virtual home visiting resources from Children’s National Hospital.
  • Web Forum Recording: Combating COVID-19: Why Paid Sick Leave Matters to Controlling its Spread (4/1/2020): Watch the Web Forum recording, hosted by PHI’s Dialogue4Health, which highlights screenshot of webinar recommendations made in the Ready or Not and Promoting Health and Cost Control in States reports by Trust for America’s Health, on the important role of paid sick leave in combating infectious diseases, as well as other complementary evidence-based policies that can be adopted by federal, state and local governments and by employers.

“If the link between housing and health is not explicit in the news, decision-makers and the public may not prioritize addressing housing needs. At this moment, we must highlight the urgent need to ensure everyone has safe shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasize that homes are a crucial foundation for a healthy society. ”
—Berkeley Media Studies Group

  • Talking about Housing, Health, and COVID-19: Keeping Equity at the Forefront (3/25/2020):  COVID-19 has brought to the forefront solutions that advocates have long called for—tenant protections, stopping the sweeps of people who are unhoused, and more—as advocates push for additional, urgent ways to ensure people are sheltered during this pandemic. PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group’s guide is focused on shifting the narrative from safety during the pandemic to the importance of treating housing as essential to public health, now and moving forward.
  • 19 CA Bridge and MAT for Opioid Use Services National Emergency Response (3/20/2020—noon PT): See new guidance from PHI’s California BRIDGE on how to immediately reduce person-to-person contact when offering Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid use. Protocols aim to slow COVID-19 spread by implementing social distancing into all aspects of care, and to ensure access and availability to medications. Read their press release.

image: Flattening the Curve graph

  • COVID-19: Addressing Discrimination & Racism (3/17/2020): As both fear and misinformation about COVID-19 continue to grow, health departments and community members are reporting increased incidences of physical, verbal, social and economic discrimination against Asian Pacific Islander communities. A subcommittee of PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California, with input from PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group, developed a set of rapid response guidelines to be considered for implementation by local health departments in order to help actively reject and prevent discrimination and racism, and work to promote the health and safety of all people living in our communities.
  • Telehealth Coverage, Technologies, Vital in the Fight Against COVID-19 (3/10/2020): As things rapidly develop on what we know about COVID-19, policies around telehealth have also been developing alongside of it. Mei Wa Kwong, director of PHI’s Center for Connected Health Policy, provides a critical overview of the telehealth updates from the federal administration and major health insurers, explores what they mean, and explains how existing state policies on telehealth may be interpreted in an emergency.

How we’re working: COVID-19

When public health is working best, we rarely see it working. We just see people breathing clean air, accessing affordable health care and living in affordable housing. And in this moment, in many communities around the world, public health means staying put and scaling back in order to care for each other and protect our most vulnerable community members and institutions from COVID-19.

During this emergency, the Public Health Institute will still be working, hard. We are already adjusting how we work, but we are dedicated to making sure that our efforts to build power, connection, infrastructure and health won’t stop. Here’s how.

We’ll be working remotely.

Our physical offices in Oakland, Sacramento and DC are currently closed. We have adjusted our operations to support remote work for the majority of our staff and programs. Phones and emails are being checked regularly and forwarded to relevant staff. The best way to reach us for general information is 510.285.5500. The Public Health Institute and its programs are continuing to review and share emerging science, best-practices and policy shifts that may affect how our communities, healthcare and public health systems, insurers and providers respond to and manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ll be collaborating and convening.

One of the things that PHI does best is to bring people together. Our Dialogue4Health platform has hosted hundreds of Web Forums for tens of thousands of health and public health professionals over the last decade. We’ll be leveraging that expertise to help each other, deepen our program work, and help you connect to each other and the people who need to hear about your work.

We’ll be sharing evidence and best practices.

This is the time for PHI to redouble our efforts to communicate the best information to those seeking a trusted and reliable source. We will continue to share emerging science, best-practices and policy shifts related to COVID-19. And, because COVID-19 may intensify other gaps in our public health systems and infrastructure, we will also continue to share other important public health news, research and policies. For official information on COVID-19, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO.

We look forward to continuing to connect with you and to serve our programs and communities around the world.

See More of our Work on COVID-19

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New Public Health Primer: Engaging Community Development for Health Equity

How can the public health and community development sectors to work together to advance health and racial equity? A new primer from PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network and partners provides a roadmap for forging upstream partnerships, with recommendations, strategies and lessons-learned from national, state and local leaders.

Explore the primer

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