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Communities of color are experiencing significantly higher rates of COVID-19 infection and significantly higher mortality rates when compared to white Americans. It is critical that contact tracing efforts are executed in ways that are appropriate to those communities experiencing a greater burden of COVID-19. In some cases these efforts should take into account the distrust some communities have in health care systems and providers. Other issues relevant to contact tracing include language, cultural competency, health literacy, stigma, and privacy concerns, particularly in multigenerational households. Furthermore, contact tracers may identify individuals who lack access to care and/or health insurance, or the supportive services needed to isolate if they test positive, and some individuals will be residents without documentation. Recruiting and building a new cadre of contact tracers should meet the immediate goal of addressing the pandemic, but attention could also be paid to building a public health infrastructure in communities that supports health equity.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity hosted a public webinar titled, Doing It Right: Contact Tracing and Health Equity, on July 30, 2020, which focused on the role of contact tracing for vulnerable groups, in this case, Native Americans and Latino communities, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This publication provides a summary of the discussions from the workshop.

Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Contact Tracing and the Challenges of Health Equity in Vulnerable Latino and Native American Communities: Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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