​​Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Grant to Maryland Department of Health

National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disp​​arities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities


Federal Funding Amount: $21,211,178 

Rural carve out: $1,160, 221

Project Period: June 1, 2021- May 31, 2023


Goals: The intended outcomes of this funding opportunity are to: 

  1. Reduce COVID-19-related health disparities

  2. Improve and increase testing and contact tracing among populations at higher risk and that are underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities

  3. Improve state, local, US territorial, and freely associated state health department capacity and services to prevent and control COVID-19 infection (or transmission) among populations at higher risk and that are underserved, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities


Maryland Department of Health is working towards these goals through collaboration across the Department, with OPHI, MHHD, and MDPCP implementing different activities, described below. Please feel free to reach out to Program Manager, Gabrielle Nichols, with any questions at gabrielle.nichols@maryland.gov


Description of Services:  A summary overview of MDH’s plan in alignment with the CDC strategies is outlined below. (Activities are subject to changes) 

  1. Increase/improve data collection and reporting for populations experiencing a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and death to guide the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Build on existing statewide data exchange through the state-designated health information exchange (HIE) by adding clinical, demographic, social, and quality data extraction from provider EMRs. Analyze and use the data to provide dashboards to providers and public health officials to visualize patient and community level disparities to inform and guide programs, policies and patient interventions, including support needed for contact tracing, testing, and vaccinations. This work aligns with the State Integrated Health Improvement Strategy under the Total Cost of Care Model which aims to reduce health disparities and improve outcomes with a focus on diabetes, opioids, maternal and child health and other issues with clear racial and ethnic impacts.

  • Support implementation of tools to enhance social determinants of health (SDoH) data collection and referral process for populations most impacted by COVID-19 to enable improved connection with current community services and community-based organizations (CBO) directory sites (e.g. 211).

  • Provide leadership, education and technical assistance to providers, CBOs, local health departments, and social service agencies to optimize the use of information provided by the statewide SDoH data program to identify and address health disparities.


  1. Build, leverage, and expand infrastructure support for COVID-19 prevention and control among populations that are at higher risk and underserved.

  • Increase Capacity of the Community Health Worker Workforce through investments in Recruitment, Training Availability, and Culturally Appropriate Services

  • Create a Maryland Healthcare Workforce Data Center

  • Strengthen higher education health professional training curriculums to include core competencies in culturally and linguistically appropriate services for diverse populations and to strengthen the ability of health professionals to address COVID-19 health disparities.

  • Implement the Maryland Eastern Shore rural residency training track within the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), with the focus on producing physicians who will practice in rural communities.

  • Enhance LHD capacity and implementation to address COVID-19 related health disparities and partnerships with organizations focusing on outlying and/or hesitant populations.


  1. Mobilize partners and collaborators to advance health equity and address social determinants of health as they relate to COVID-19 health disparities among populations at higher risk and that are underserved.

  • Facilitate Community Based Organization (CBO) representing underserved and increased risk populations in their efforts to address COVID-19 related health disparities.

  • Partner with academic institutions/training organization(s) to provide technical assistance to support CBOs and LHDs in addressing COVID-19 health disparities.