Covid-19 Update 5.22.20

Posted Friday May 29, 2020

Health Gap Community:

It’s almost June, and our community continues to come together in the midst of this devastating crisis. Thank you to everyone who has engaged with us to educate and protect ourselves and our neighbors. You can continue to stay up-to-date on the latest issues around COVID-19 and its impact on our Black and marginalized communities in our region by visiting

Stay strong, stay connected, keep praying! We will get through this time together!

Renee Mahaffey Harris, Health Gap President & CEO


Health Gap on Biz Beat

Jamie Smith, publisher of the Cincinnati Business Courier sat down with Health Gap CEO Renee Mahaffey Harris to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Cincinnati’s Black community. They discussed efforts to educate and protect our vulnerable populations and resources available to the region’s minority owned businesses. Check out the full interview at

Virtual Town Hall #8 this Saturday at 4 pm

Join us for the 8th installment of our Virtual Town Hall series on Saturday, May 30 at 4pm as we continue our discussion of COVID-19 and its impact on Cincinnati’s Black community. Moderated by Cincinnati City Councilmember Jan Michele Lemon Kearney and hosted by the Center for Closing the Health Gap, this week’s event will feature the following panelists:

  • Damon Lynch, New Prospect Baptist Church
  • Mark Lawson, President/CEO of the Community Action Agency
  • Gregory Johnson, CEO, Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • Jeniece Jones, Executive Director, Housing Opportunities Made Equal

For login information or to listen to recordings of our previous Town Halls, visit


Updated Numbers from the Ohio Department of Health

The Ohio Department of Health has released updated numbers about COVID-19. We have now passed 2,000 total deaths statewide, among nearly 34,000 total cases. We have flattened the curve, but we must remain vigilant about following proper safety guidelines!


Governor Provides Updates on Efforts to Improve Minority Health during COVID-19


Governor DeWine announced initial findings from his Minority Health Strike Force. The team – which includes Health Gap CEO Renee Mahaffey Harris – was formed in April in response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans who make up 14 percent of Ohio’s population, but represent 26 percent of positive COVID-19 cases, 31 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 17 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio.

Recommendations were created using feedback from the Strike Force’s Health Care, Resources, Data, and Education subcommittees. Examples of these recommendations include:

  • Establishing culturally appropriate and accessible COVID-19 exposure notification services for communities of color.
  • Expanding testing capacity and access for minorities and high-risk populations.
  • Using data to prioritize resources in the communities that have the highest need.
  • Developing and launching a statewide, culturally-sensitive outreach campaign that educates African Americans and communities of color on COVID-19, health disparities, and social determinants of health.

The Minority Health Strike Force’s preliminary report will be available soon at Final recommendations will be issued on June 11.



A new position will be created within the Ohio Department of Health dedicated to social determinants of health and opportunity. This person in this position will be responsible for collecting data to inform best practices and for helping to ensure the implementation of the Minority Strike Force’s short-term and long-term recommendations.



The Department of Health and Minority Health Strike Force will work with Us for Us to unveil a new communications campaign aimed at Ohio’s minority populations called, “Stay in the Fight.” This campaign will focus on the need to stay informed, stay involved, and stay inspired during the pandemic.



To expand access to testing, Ohio has partnered with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers which represents Ohio’s Federally Qualified Health Centers, including 55 Community Health Centers at 378 locations. It has multiple mobile units in 68 of Ohio’s 88 counties. For testing, individuals should contact their Federally Qualified Health Center or community health center for information and direction about how to be tested.



Ohio is partnering with the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers and the Nationwide Foundation to distribute thousands of Community Wellness Kits that contain COVID-19 protection-related items, such as face coverings, hand sanitizer, and soap.



To support both the state and local health departments in efforts to fight COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact on people of color, Ohio will significantly increase the number of public health workers who can help notify Ohioans of possible exposure to the virus. The hiring of these public health workers is in progress at both the state and local levels with the goal of hiring individuals who represent and reflect the make-up of their own communities.

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