United Way NCA Fights for Equity in COVID-19 Testing

Partnering with Quest Diagnostics, Choose Healthy Life and 10 local Black Churches in the DMV, United Way of the National Capital Area is Bringing Free COVID-19 Tests to Communities who Need Them Most

Washington, DC (April 7, 2021)—The effects of the ongoing pandemic have been far from equitable. Although every facet of our society has been impacted by COVID-19, some National Capital Area residents have been hit harder than others, especially Black community members—a health phenomenon seen throughout the nation.

Compared to white people, Black people are three times more likely to die of COVID-19 and seven times more likely to be hospitalized from infection. To close the gap, we must make COVID-19 testing and forthcoming vaccine distribution as equitable as possible.

United Way of the National Capital Area has teamed up with Quest Diagnostics and Choose Healthy Life Black Clergy Action Plan (CHL), which is a direct response to the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Black community. Partnering with 10 local Black churches in the National Capital Area to provide safe and trusted COVID-19 testing sites to community members, CHL leverages the power of the Black church, the most trusted and respected organization in the Black community, to expand access not only to COVID-19 testing, but also contact tracing, vaccines and other health services in underserved communities.

“We know that by partnering with the faith community, they can help build trust and be the messenger to their congregants and also within the surrounding community,” says United Way NCA President & CEO Rosie Allen-Herring. “We are poised to utilize our role as convener to lead implementation efforts and provide the necessary infrastructure to reach this community.”

Testing events are already underway and will continue throughout the months ahead at our partner churches, which include Community of Hope AME Church; Zion Church; Michigan Park Christian Church; Kingdom Fellowship AME Church; First Baptist Church; Mt. Lebanon Baptist; Mt. Sinai Baptist Church; Pennsylvania Ave. Baptist Church; Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church; and Covenant Baptist UCC. Each church has hired a Public Health Navigator, establishing an infrastructure of trusted health support to ensure testing is safe, effective and reliable.

The goal of CHL is to conduct 20 testing events throughout the community in Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Washington, DC, testing over 4000 participants in total. This is the first step in laying the important foundation for including vaccines in the program in the near future.

Ultimately, CHL is not only reaching the needs of the community now but is building the infrastructure to battle health concerns in the future by establishing an infrastructure of trusted health navigators in our community churches in tandem with United Way NCA’s efforts. The sustainable model will expand to address a multitude of health disparities—like diabetes and high blood pressure—and can be replicated in other communities as well.

To learn more about United Way NCA’s partnership with CHL, and to find testing events near year, visit unitedwaynca.org/CHL.

About United Way of the National Capital Area

United Way of the National Capital Area fights for the health, education and economic opportunity of every person in the National Capital Area community. United Way NCA has been improving lives by creating measurable impact in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties for more than 45 years. In 2020, United Way NCA was among 384 organizations across the United States to receive a generous transformational investment from novelist and venture philanthropist, MacKenzie Scott. For more information about United Way of the National Capital Area, visit UnitedWayNCA.org.