Protecting vulnerable populations

Protecting vulnerable populations

Some residents of Philadelphia are at greater risk for infection or for severe disease than others. Members of racial and ethnic minorities have higher rates of recognized infection and severe infection than Caucasians, likely related to longstanding social disadvantage. People who live in congregate settings are at greater risk for infection, and those who are elderly or have chronic medical conditions are greater risk for severe disease if infected. We emphasize protections for these disproportionately vulnerable populations.

Racial Equity Response Plan

After recognizing significant disparities in case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths among African American and Latinx city residents, the Department of Public Health developed an Interim Racial Equity Response Plan that addresses seven key areas of concern:

  • Access to COVID-19 testing
  • Surveillance data
  • Community outreach
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Protecting essential workers
  • Community spread
  • Spread in congregate settings

The Department, in collaboration with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Mayor’s Office, identified key City and community stakeholders and reached out to those stakeholders for their input on the plan. The first meeting of the stakeholder group took place the week of June 15.

Long-term care and congregate settings

The Department of Public Health is working with hospital systems and nursing homes citywide to further protect nursing home residents and staff from COVID transmission within the facility. This includes supporting the nursing homes’ implementation of facility-wide testing of residents and staff, provision of personal protection equipment, consulting on infection control practices, and staffing support through the Medical Reserve Corps.  

The Department of Public Health will work with the state Department of Human Services and local hospitals to establish formal affiliations between hospitals and nursing homes in which the hospitals help prevent the introduction or spread of COVID within nursing homes.

The City is also supporting residential treatment centers and shelters for people experiencing homelessness to make them safer for staff and residents. This work includes expanded testing at congregate living sites.


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