New Brunswick Tomorrow Partners with Rutgers University to Bring COVID-19 Testing to Disadvantaged Communities

At the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak, NBT’s community focus expanded to include widespread COVID-related outreach.

At the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak, NBT’s community focus expanded to include widespread COVID-related outreach. Due to the unprecedented nature of this public health crisis, we conducted a community survey of Healthy Housing and Esperanza Neighborhood Project participants to identify the most-pressing community needs as a result of COVID-19. To address the issues reported by the community, we met weekly with our partner organizations in Healthier New Brunswick to determine a course of action. These efforts led to the identification of areas in New Brunswick where residents were most impacted, coordination to distribute preventative care information and resources, and advocacy for a dedicated testing site in New Brunswick.

In the months since, while COVID continued to spread, the rate of infection and number of cases decreased not only throughout New Jersey but also in Middlesex County. As we enter the winter months, cases are once again rising.

In an effort to maintain the health and safety of New Brunswick residents, New Brunswick Tomorrow is initiating another concerted effort to engage the community, along with our Healthier New Brunswick partners, with an opportunity provided by Rutgers University’s new study, “NJ HEROES TOO”. The program aims to gain insight in how we can better understand COVID-19 testing and awareness among vulnerable populations.

According to the latest report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, more than half of households confronted health and financial challenges due to COVID-19—with Black and Latino households, and households with incomes below $100,000, being hit first and worst. The national data that shows minority communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 is mirrored in New Brunswick. St. Peters Hospital, one of our local hospital partners, was able to identify the Unity Square and Esperanza Neighborhood areas, which are primarily Latino and Black communities that we know already suffer the most health and social disparities in the city, as areas that report the highest infection rates in the city.

New Brunswick Tomorrow is here to make sure the community voice is heard in ways to best fit their need. The strong relationship we have built with the community emphasizes the impact from opportunities like the “NJ HEROES TOO” study. We aim to enact action that will resonate with residents as COVID becomes a part of daily life. By giving residents the ability to gain access to testing to ensure they are healthy, to receive preventative information to keep them healthy, and to learn their options if they get infected, we hope to see a decrease in the rate of COVID infection and its sweeping effects on other aspects of life. As an organization focused on improving the quality of life for our residents, this additional partnership will only benefit our community during this difficult time.

November 21, 2020

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