The Alaska Black Caucus says that he a. will use $ 1.15 million Federal grant for COVID-19 vaccine and testing to produce first nationwide report on the health of Black Alaskans.

Felicia Weaver receives COVID-19 vaccine at a duty clinic after Sunday in the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church gym on March 28, 2021 (Lex Treinen / Alaska Public Media)

“It will enable us to provide recommendations to local and government agencies on best practice and health-related data collection and reporting by race,” said Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the Alaska Black Caucus. “This is huge for us.”

The Anchorage Congregation signed millions of dollars in federal aid for COVID-19 testing and vaccines at a meeting on June 23. The grants were requested by the Austin Quinn-Davidson Mayor’s Office and went to four other organizations.

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Although data on COVID-19 has been collected by race and ethnicity, it is not always complete. The available data show that Black Alaskans are significantly less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and are also less likely to test positive for the disease.

Growden said the Black Caucus will host round table discussions with local health leaders and national experts to share results, including hosting a COVID-19 summit for Black Alaskans and a health fair on COVID-19 for people of color.

The group will also expand its COVID-19 vaccine campaign to include those released from prison. Alaska’s prison population is disproportionately represented by colored people.

The grant is a boost to the Alaska Black Caucus. The group has been around since the 1970s, but was reorganized in 2019. Growden said the new money will be used to hire some research and public relations staff. The association is currently run on a voluntary basis. Part of this will also be used to renovate the organization’s office.

The Black Caucus worked closely with the Anchorage Health Department during the pandemic. Growden said it was well positioned to continue health work with the black community.

“People may think we are a new and young organization, but we are full of experience, the people involved, and we have been full of knowledge and information,” she said.