People of color and those with compromising health conditions make up the majority of COVID-19 deaths according to national, state, and regional data. In response to these facts, community leaders in Niagara Falls announced the creation of the Niagara Falls Health Equity Task Force.

“As community leaders, we publicly acknowledge that this data is alarming and deserves immediate attention,” the coalition said in a statement. “No one should be at greater risk for death from complications of COVID-19 because of racial categories, economic status, and/or health conditions. Everyone’s health is of the utmost importance in our community.”

The task force will analyze data to determine the community’s immediate health, economic, and social needs, and will work to identify how to prepare for a potential fall 2020 resurgence of the COVID-19 virus. A focus of the task force will be to assist local healthcare and non-profit professionals in identifying ways to increase access to diagnostic and antibody testing in underserved neighborhoods. The group will also make recommendations to government leaders about ongoing community outreach and economic needs, especially food and housing security. Further, the task force will leverage the knowledge of local academics to tackle this most pressing public health crisis.

Organizations joining the task force include Catholic Health Mount St. Mary’s Hospital; City of Niagara Falls, Community Health Center of Niagara; Community Missions; Heart, Love, and Soul; Niagara County Legislature; Niagara Ministerial Council; Niagara Falls City School District; Niagara Falls Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative; Niagara Falls Housing Authority; Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope (NOAH); Niagara University; Pinnacle Community Services; True Bethel Baptist Church; 211WNY; and YWCA of Niagara Frontier.