Beat COVID-19 initiative reaches thousands in Pawtucket, Central Falls

PROVIDENCE – Since its creation on May 1, the Beat COVID-19 initiative in Central Falls and Pawtucket has made contact with more than 3,000 people who have not had regular access to health care, officials say.

The two cities have been hard-hit by COVID-19, with Pawtucket reporting the second-highest number of cases in the state and Central Falls the fourth highest.

To date, volunteers with the Beat COVID-19 initiative have made and received more than 2,700 calls and tested about 750 people.

Of the residents reached by the initiative, more than 90% reported a household income of $25,000 or less, about 22% said they were United States citizens and about 16% said they were born in the U.S.

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“By listening carefully to all our communities and doing our best to speak the languages our communities speak, Beat COVID-19 has been amazingly successful in reducing the number of new cases of COVID -19 in Pawtucket and Central Falls,” said Dr. Michael Fine, chief health strategist for Pawtucket and Central Falls.

He added that the program’s intention is to have an impact beyond reducing cases of the virus.

“We intend to find any COVID-19 still hiding in our neighborhoods and will keep reaching out in new and different ways until everyone from the two cities is safe,” Fine said.

Residents reached by the initiative were not required to answer questions about their household and background, organizers said.

Beat COVID-19 is a grassroots effort that was created when cases of the virus began to spike in Pawtucket and Central Falls, particularly in the cities’ Latino populations.

The initiative was designed to give residents, many of whom do not have primary care doctors, easy access to health care, testing for the virus and information on how to protect themselves and their families.

“We are beyond thankful for our community partners who have contributed weeks of support and staff time to this project, and, although we know there is a lot of work still to be done, are proud of the hundreds of residents we’ve been able to help,” said Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa.

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.