A new Johns Hopkins University study compares COVID-19 cases, deaths, and vaccinations in Baltimore City against those in similar jurisdictions and concludes “Baltimore City has fared better than most counties with similar sociodemographic characteristics, as measured by COVID-19 cases, COVID-19 mortality, and COVID-19 vaccination per population.”
Pew Trusts’ Stateline website reported on the new study and examines some of the reasons that Baltimore has fared better than many similar jurisdictions. It cites excellent leadership by Mayor Brandon Scott and Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, a relatively high health insurance rate, and partnerships with health care institutions, local nonprofits and trusted community groups.
Among those partnerships, the story cites the city’s June, 2020 partnership with OSI-Baltimore and the Rockefeller Foundation to establish Baltimore Health Corps, which was designed to ramp up contact tracing and provide much-needed jobs.
When the crisis began, Dzirasa said, the city had only about 15 contact tracers. With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Open Society Institute-Baltimore foundation and the Johns Hopkins Health System, the health department created an army of about 250 contact tracers, many of them unemployed or furloughed as a result of the pandemic. The city recruited people from the hardest hit neighborhoods to fill those jobs.
That early partnership laid the groundwork for OSI and the Rockefeller Foundation to establish the Baltimore Equity Vaccination Initiative in April 2021, which is using community-based vaccine delivery, community engagement, and communications strategies to eliminate racial disparities in vaccine delivery.