COVID-19 Community Coordinators 

It is essential to draw on community strengths and trusted community networks to respond effectively to COVID-19 and to longstanding health inequities made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During and beyond the pandemic, providing accurate COVID-19 information, support, and resources that are culturally and linguistically appropriate and specific to RIM communities remains essential to keeping communities safe.

COVID-19 Communities Coordinator Role

COVID-19 Community Coordinators (CCC’s) are community-based organizations that were contracted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to connect diverse communities to COVID-19 testing, information, and resources. CCC’s contracted with MDH to serve communities hit hardest by COVID-19, including communities of color, American Indian communities, LGBTQ communities, and those with disabilities. CCC’s support all who need COVID-19 information specific to their communities, in a culturally and linguistically relevant manner.

During the pandemic, CCC’s utilized and managed hotlines to help community members find and get critical resources to deal with health concerns, as well as employment, food access, housing, childcare, and legal rights.

COVID-19 Community Coordinators can answer questions about:

  • Where to get tested for COVID-19
  • Food support
  • Health care and mental health resources 
  • Housing and rental assistance 
  • COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing 
  • Employment resources

CCC’s include the following organizations:

  • Disabilities-centered community-based organizations contracted through the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)
  • Refugee service agencies across the state were contracted through The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Refugee and Immigrant Resettlement Network. 
  • Forty-eight culturally specific organizations that currently serve African American, African immigrant, American Indian, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latino, and LGBTQ communities in Minnesota.

Supporting the Community in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) hired eight lead coordinators and a team supervisor representing the state's diverse communities to provide professional support to this initiative through community engagement and contract management.

The coordinators bring to their positions their lived cultural and linguistic experience from the communities they belong to. They are responsible for partnering with and assisting COVID-19 departments in engaging the RIM communities. This includes organizing requests and needs from the population to the health department's appropriate areas, other state agencies, or local public health partners. The lead coordinators participate in community conversations and health education presentations and help plan COVID-19 testing events. They provide technical assistance to community partners and assist in developing strategies as well as two-way, meaningful relationships using a health equity lens.

Impact of COVID-19 Community Coordinators initiative

During the pandemic, the CCC initiative had a very positive impact on MDH’s community engagement efforts to build deeper, authentic relationships with diverse communities to address health disparities. It promoted inclusivity of those communities that were traditionally difficult to reach to access COVID-19 related information and resources. There was increased MDH’s presence in communities and partnership to address public health crisis thanks to the creation and implementation of the CCC program.

Through monthly call-in platforms, lead coordinators facilitated communication and feedback between CCC’s and MDH, strengthening their relationship to effectively work together. There was also improved funding and technical capacity of CCC’s to implement community driven COVID-19 prevention and response activities.

Beyond the COVID –19 Pandemic

MDH has since partnered with the CCC’s to address post pandemic recovery health needs of communities such as promoting preventative care as well as mental health and wellness services. The agency is working in connecting its CCC work with local public health counties and social service partners to build better trust and ongoing partnership between communities and local partners.

Additional Resources 

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