Reemergence: Learning to Navigate the Pandemic and Supporting Public Health
As the nature of the pandemic continues to evolve over time with new variants, seasonal outbreaks and changes in social activities impacting COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates, questions around how we should approach our lives and work moving forward and what our system looks like and what it needs to look like to continue to adapt to the pandemic.
Recently, CMF members heard exclusive updates from the state’s chief medical executive and chief epidemiologist in an event hosted by the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) and CMF’s Health Funders Affinity Group.
During the virtual event, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive for the state of Michigan and Dr. Sarah Lyon-Callo, director of Bureau of Epidemiology & Population at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), explored the current state of the pandemic and community reemergence and discussed the role of philanthropy in supporting Michigan’s communities, families and children.
Dr. Lyon-Callo provided an update on case rates within the state, highlighting that rates are no longer on a steady decline and in fact some areas of the state are showing potential signs of a plateau or a slight increase.
She also shared the latest on race and ethnicity data, hospitalization rates and mortality rates as well as vaccination rates.
Key takeaways from the data shared:
• In the most recent surge in cases, adults in the age range of 30-39 showed the highest case rates followed by 40-49- and 20–29-year-olds.
• Specific to race and ethnicity, case rates continue to be the highest among individuals who are American Indian/Alaska Native.
o American Indian/Alaska Natives currently have the highest death rate at 4.3 deaths per million population.
o 25% of case records are missing race and ethnicity data and the state has continued to work to lower that number.
• Hospitalization rates have decreased in all preparedness regions and all of those regions have fewer than 85 hospitalizations per million population.
o During the peak of the Omicron variant wave, hospitalization rates in Black adults were nearly four times as high as rates among White adults.
• In February, unvaccinated people had 2.9 times the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and 25 times the risk of death compared to those who were up to date on vaccinations.
o Reported vaccination coverage is lower among Black residents in Michigan.
• Vaccination rates have plateaued among various age groups.
o Less than 30% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received a vaccine.
o While a COVID vaccine is not yet available for children under the age of 5, the state is recognizing the importance of preparing for the rollout of that vaccine when available. Over 90% of children less than 5 years old vaccinated for influenza are vaccinated by a pediatrician or family practice provider which demonstrates the importance those providers have in COVID-19 vaccination.
Dr. Lyon-Callo shared opportunities for the state to address the challenges with missing and inconsistent data such as improving the data system to better understand the experiences of individuals with disabilities, supporting the visualization of data and information at the state and local levels and working to understand the effects of Long-COVID through research.
The speakers outlined ways to address vaccination rates and to support groups that have been impacted disparately by the pandemic through the use of effective tools, consistency in messaging and communication strategies and more effective use of social media.
One of the largest issues that has emerged in the pandemic is the need for trusted messengers and to explore who those trusted messengers may be.
“As public health and as those who are funding and supporting public health initiatives, we need to start thinking outside of the box in terms of whom we’ve identified as trusted messengers. Where we really need to be investing in is our 20- and 30-year-olds, is it TikTok influencers or more of a peer education network? I think we need to be more open-minded, social media rules in this day,” Dr. Bagdasarian said.
Dr. Bagdasarian shared that for foundations who are thinking of supporting and funding any communication on the pandemic, it’s important to ensure the messaging is consistent and cohesive with public health messaging.
“Not having cohesive messaging as a nation has really hurt our relationship with the public,” Dr. Bagdasarian said.
Looking ahead to how we continue to manage the pandemic while prioritizing equity, Dr. Bagdasarian provided an overview of how we can prepare for future surges due to seasons, societal changes and new variants.
“We’ve been discussing how to take the lessons learned from this pandemic and use them to build a better public health future, how to make sure that we’re ready for not just future COVID surges, but how we are ready for future pandemics, outbreaks and public health emergencies,” Dr. Bagdasarian said.
Dr. Bagdasarian shared how the state is thinking about prioritizing equity in all public health actions and activities through strengthening the public health infrastructure and trust in public health messaging and measures including:
• Ensuring adequate financial support for local health departments and other partners.
• Working towards better data management systems that intercommunicate.
• Increase capacity for public health response which includes recruitment and retention for the workforce.
• Rebuilding relationships with communities.
• Keeping messaging unified, targeted, data-driven and ensuring we are all using the same terminology across the state and the country.
As we continue to navigate the way we live and work amid the pandemic, the speakers highlighted that we are in a state of recovery and preparedness, then must move to a state of readiness to create the resilience we need moving forward.
All CMF members are invited to join the next conversation hosted by CMF’s Health Funders Affinity Group to share how their organization is addressing behavioral health and learn more about health-related collaborations and innovations happening across the state. Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and her team will share updates on investments the state is making and engage with attendees on behavioral health-related issues of interest to Michigan philanthropy. Register here.
Join the Public Health Communications Collaborative for a discussion on protecting public health through the current COVID-19 landscape and beyond. The webinar will offer stories and lessons learned from public health communicators across the U.S. that can be used to address current and future communication needs. Learn more.
Census 2020 Data Reveals Higher Rates of Undercounts
It was two years ago on April 1 when Census 2020 counts officially kicked off following a multi-year campaign led by Michigan nonprofits and philanthropy to try and ensure an equitable and accurate census. While the state-level data won’t be released until this summer, the national data paints a picture of higher rates of undercounts for several demographic groups than what we saw in 2010.
The data released by the Census Bureau are from the Post-Enumeration Survey (PES) and Demographic Analysis Estimates (DA) and estimate how well the 2020 Census counted everyone in the nation and in certain demographic groups. They estimate the size of the U.S. population and then compare those estimates to the census counts.
The PES estimates the population using a sample survey, while DA estimates the population using vital records and other data.
The results show that the 2020 Census undercounted people of color, specifically the Black population, the American Indian or Alaska Native population living on a reservation, the Hispanic or Latinx population and people who reported being of “some other race.”
Toplines from the PES Data:
• The Black or African American had an undercount of 3.3% compared to a 2.06% undercount in 2010.
• The Hispanic or Latinx population had an undercount rate of 4.99% compared to 1.54% undercount in 2010.
• American Indian or Alaska Native populations living on reservations had an undercount rate of 5.64% compared to 4.88% in 2010. The American Indian or Alaska Native population alone or in combination living in American Indian areas, but not living on reservations, was not statistically different compared to the 2010 count.
• The non-Hispanic White alone population had an overcount rate of 1.64% compared to an overcount of 0.83% in 2010.
• The Asian alone or in combination population had an overcount rate of 2.62% compared to 0.00% in 2010.
• The Native Hawaiian or “other Pacific Islander” alone or in combination population had an estimated overcount rate of 1.28% compared to an estimated 1.02% overcount rate in 2010.
The PES and DA data results also show undercounts and overcounts for various age groups, genders, and homeowners and renters for the 2020 Census.
In addition to this data, the Census Bureau released new statistics from the 2016–2020 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates which provides key insights into how those who participated may be different from those who did not and allowed an adjustment to make the data more representative of the entire population.
According to a press release, following pandemic-related data collection disruptions, the Census Bureau revised its methodology to reduce nonresponse bias in data collected in 2020. The 2016–2020 ACS 5-year estimates show changes in median household income, poverty rates and race and ethnicity.
The recently released PES data is the first round of undercount data and additional results with state-level information on undercounts will be released this summer.
Census data helps determine how federal funding will be spent on critical federal programs, such as food assistance, housing vouchers, Head Start, healthcare and much more. This data also helps shape economic development projects as businesses use it to help determine where they should locate or expand.
As a result of the 2020 Census, Michigan lost a seat in Congress due to the state’s slow population growth.
The first data release comes after a comprehensive, multi-year effort by Michigan’s Nonprofits Complete Count Campaign (NPCCC), a state and local effort led by the Michigan Nonprofit Association and supported by many CMF members, focused on increasing Census participation rates in underrepresented communities in Michigan.
The NPCCC was launched in 2017 with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The campaign was supported by more than 40 CMF members and the Michigan Legislature.
More than 11 CMF member community foundations served or partnered as regional hubs through the NPCCC in their region, working with organizations on the ground to increase awareness and education around Census participation.
Read more about the Post-Enumeration Survey data.
Read more about the data from the 2016-202 American Community Survey 5-year estimates.
Community-Based Partnerships Create Opportunities in Navigating Federal Funding
As communities prepare for state and federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a CMF member partnered with their local municipality and area organization to administer a portion of the incoming funds.
The Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF) collaborated with the city of Kalamazoo and the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region to administer $1 million of the city of Kalamazoo’s Federal ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
These partnerships first emerged in 2020, during the onset of the pandemic, when KZCF identified emerging and urgent needs in their community nonprofit sector. The community foundation reopened its Community Urgent Relief Fund, with support from its donor relations department, to help address the needs of nonprofits.
Amid the pandemic, KZCF teamed up with its local United Way and created a team approach to addressing these needs. Together, the organizations created a single application and review process for both funding streams and created a joint process for reviewing requests and issuing funds into the community.
“This process was so successful that we offered to help manage some of the ARPA funds as they came into the city of Kalamazoo. We explained to the city what the partnership had accomplished and offered to utilize the same team and system to expedite the distribution of ARPA funds into community,” David Feaster, community investment officer at KZCF said.
The organizations used the same system as before while adding what was needed for federal requirements. Through the Urgent Relief Fund process, the teams already understood the process and had gained insight into the community needs that were exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Our working knowledge of the local nonprofit landscape and COVID-related needs in the community and the stresses to our local systems that those imposed, all helped inform how we evaluated the ARPA funding requests that we reviewed together. We saw how this understanding and our relationships with agencies in community brought an added level of trust to our process,” Feaster said.
Feaster shared that when the ARPA application process was announced, the organizations shared it with their networks which included grassroots agencies that were not as familiar with seeking grants connected to federal funding.
“Through our partnership with United Way, we were able to offer some supports to help ensure that these smaller agencies could keep up with the federal reporting requirements for the grants. I believe this increased trust and support allowed us to go deeper into community and allowed smaller agencies to have the confidence to apply,” Feaster said.
According to Feaster, involving a diverse group of nonprofit partners allowed them to more effectively identify community needs community needs and resulted in a more holistic response that addressed the needs of a greater diversity of community members.
This kind of partnership is something the community foundation hopes to continue.
“We recognize that moving forward we can provide services such as this to other entities with the knowledge that this team brings, a certain insight and community trust as well as an equitable process to the table,” Feaster said.
Learn more about how other CMF members are partnering to ensure their communities are prepared for incoming ARPA funding.
Through the guidance of CMF’s Michigan Philanthropy COVID-19 Working Group and approval of the Board of Trustees, CMF established the Statewide Equity Fund (SEF) Strategic Support Pilot in May 2021.
The SEF Strategic Support Pilot is a $2 million CMF member-driven pooled fund aimed at providing the infrastructure needed to help shape incoming ARPA and other federal dollars toward equity-centered approaches to advance economic prosperity in communities.
Learn more about the work the SEF Strategic Support Pilot is supporting on page 17 of CMF’s 2021 Annual Report: Together on the Journey.