(BOSTON, MA) – Just over four years after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, a new Community Catalyst report on Long COVID sheds light on the powerful role, and importance of, investing in community leaders and organizations to re-envision a public health system that is rooted in race equity and health justice. It captures the perspectives of community-based organizations and leaders across the country following in-person and virtual listening sessions – as well as surveying over 500 respondents – with an explicit focus on the health, economic and emotional impact of Long COVID on Black and Latinx communities.  

The first-of-its-kind report, Fostering Equity: A Strategic Framework for Addressing Long COVID Disparities through Community Engagement, provides a summary of community insights to address Long COVID, with explicit emphasis on communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and now, Long COVID. The report is accompanied by a video uplifting the perspectives and learnings of organizations and individuals Community Catalyst partnered with to identify the problems and solutions outlined in the report. 

Community Catalyst to Unveil Report at Annual Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) Conference in St. Louis, MO 

View the report here 

Sheree Keitt, director of the Vaccine Equity and Access Program at Community Catalyst and strategic manager Daisha Bonhomme will present the report, engage in a roundtable with public health practitioners and urge for bolder action at the upcoming SOPHE conference in St. Louis, MO.  

“To create equitable practices and policies in public health, communities whose needs are greatest should have a voice when developing solutions. This work, and network, demonstrates what is possible – and is just a sliver of the investment needed to unleash the power of community leaders and organizations to put the public at the center of public health,” said Keitt. “Community-based organizations and community leaders are both trusted messengers and advocates, and we must continue to support and partner with them to improve community health and wellbeing. This will help ensure we are better understanding the lasting impacts of Long COVID on our communities – especially Black and Latinx communities – and the visions, ideas, wants and needs for a more responsibe and reflective public health system.”  

Key findings: 

The report centers the impact of Long COVID on Black and Latinx communities while exploring what steps national and state government agencies can take to reduce the impact of Long COVID, specifically among communities most affected. It demonstrates the need for future work by Community Catalyst and other organizations to address systemic issues such as underrepresentation in clinical trials and insufficient awareness and support services, while also providing the infrastructure, support and space to develop and incorporate community-level strategies into larger public health solutions. 

  • The report finds that the emergence of Long COVID presents a new layer of health challenges, with preliminary data indicating that minoritized racial and ethnic communities are once again bearing a disproportionate burden.  
  • The adverse effects of Long COVID are more than just physical – they are exacerbating existing disparities in employment, financial security and access to health care that exist due to long-standing structural racism.  
  • The response to Long COVID demands a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to data collection, equitable distribution of resources and proactive, and ongoing, community engagement.  
In their voice: 

Selected quotes from the video

  • “There was so much loss experienced by the Black and Latino communities – loss of economics, loss of jobs, really losing the sense of connectivity within the community” – Dr. Cherise Hamblin, founder of Patients R Waiting.  
  • “Many of [the community members] explained that this was the first time that anybody asked them their opinion about how we can create interventions for their community” – Chanda Freeman, MSW, health policy and advocacy team manager at the Tennessee Justice Center. 

The community listening sessions, combined with data analysis, builds on Community Catalyst’s now four-year Vaccine Equity and Access Program (VEAP) to engage with and support community-based organizations to enhance confidence in vaccines – with specific focus on communities harmed most by the current health system due to structural racism, classism and other forms of oppression. 

Community spotlight: 

Community Catalyst is grateful to our partners, as well as the steering committee, for their contributions to this project. Among them, Doulas Latinas International (Gresham, OR); Black Health (New York, NY); Patients R Waiting, Inc. (Lancaster, PA); Randolph County Caring Community, Inc. (Moberly, MO); Tennessee Justice Center (Nashville, TN); Trans(forming) (Atlanta, GA). 

Do you have a story to share about Long COVID? You can share it here.  


About Community Catalyst: 

Community Catalyst is a national organization dedicated to building the power of people to create a health system rooted in race equity and health justice, and a society where health is a right for all. We’re an experienced, trusted partner to organizations across the country, a change agent to policymakers at the local, state, and national level, and both an adversary and a collaborator to health systems in our efforts to advance health justice. We partner with local, state and national organizations and leaders to leverage and build power so that people are at the center of important decisions about health and health care, whether they are made by health care executives, in state houses, or on Capitol Hill. Together with partners, we’re building a powerful, united movement with a shared vision of and strategy for a health system accountable to all people. Learn more at communitycatalyst.org