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Issue Brief

The Importance of Community Health Workers for Meeting the Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Title
The Importance of Community Health Workers for Meeting the Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Location(s)
Columbia, Maryland
Date
March 15, 2021
Author(s)
Dr. Anita Makkenchery, Sinead Maharrey, Dr. Brandy Farrar, Dr. Yael Harris
Market
IMPAQ Health

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our health system is under increasing pressure: Public health departments have insufficient staff to address population needs. Especially in communities with significant socioeconomic disparities, health care personnel are overwhelmed both physically and mentally, and social distancing guidelines have impacted access to care. As a result, reliance on community health workers in the prevention, testing, and treatment of COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated. As the pandemic continues to hinder in-person access to care, it is important to understand how community health workers can fill critical gaps during the pandemic to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections and prevent unnecessary deaths.

This brief provides key insights and recommendations into:

  • The role of community health workers in the community.
  • The importance of community health workers in the COVID-19 response.
  • Next steps to ensure continued funding for community health workers.