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March marks two years since COVID-19 first devastated the lives of people across the country. A new report aims to look at lessons learned in Connecticut, and efforts to ensure health equity for people of color in the state going forward.

Nearly one in three Black residents said they had a close friend or family member who died from COVID-19, according to a fall 2021 survey, along with one in four Hispanic respondents.

Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation, which published the report, said it is important to recognize the barriers to health care access for communities of color in the state contributing to disparities.

“What we saw is that people of color also have less financial security,” Donelson observed. “That made the economic impacts more disruptive, and that individuals of color were also more likely to have jobs that required them to be on the front lines.”

Donelson pointed out research shows people of color are less likely to have a primary-care provider. As of February, 10,000 Connecticut residents had died from COVID-19.

The report also included recommendations for how state and local governments can achieve racial health equity.

Donelson noted health care accessibility was a big issue during the pandemic. She added people of color in the state have less access to transportation and bringing health care directly to the community is key.

“We use the example of doing a vaccine clinic at a Walmart parking lot,” Donelson remarked. “Again, meeting people where they are, and doing it on the weekend, so that you know people are going there, and it’s an accessible place, and it’s convenient for people to get there.”

Other recommendations in the report for state officials included building relationships with community-based organizations, that can act as trusted messengers on public health issues by sharing information, conducting outreach and soliciting feedback.

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