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Lansing programs stepping up outreach for COVID-19 resources in vulnerable communities

CATA connecting Old Town, downtown with new, free service
Posted at 11:06 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 23:06:53-05

The pandemic has pushed many of our day-to-day activities online. Which raises the question: how are people without access to the Internet able to get vital information, information about COVID resources in particular?

“If there’s ever a time for us to come together and make this work it’s right now,” CEO of Capitol Area Transportation Authority Brad Funkhouser said.

Health officials here in Michigan have used A metric called the social vulnerability index to help identify communities that may be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and to make sure those communities have more doses of the vaccine and access to appointments. Director Elizabeth Hertel of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said those factors cover a variety of areas.

“They include things like race and ethnicity, people's ability to speak English, income, age, whether or not someone has stable housing,” Hertel said.

The state is also working to make sure people in those communities know what's available to them, whether they have internet access or not.

Programs like Michigan’s 2-1-1 line are available to Michiganders without internet access to help people find and schedule COVID testing and vaccination appointments over the phone.

For Lansing-area residents who don't have transportation, CATA is offering rides to any registered vaccination appointment.

“Once a rider has their appointment, they can call 517- 394-2282 and schedule a ride through CATA. They can also call Clinton transportation or Eatran. I offer this to the public if anyone is experiencing difficulty with transportation please call us you need only show us the appointment verification and we’ll make sure you get a free ride to the vaccine,” Funkhouser said.

CATA has conducted more than 50 ride assistance trips over the past few weeks.

“We’ve also done rides for homeless shelters and populations like those who would not be watching the news or have access to the internet. So, spread the word that we need to join hands now and make sure that there’s no excuse for those most vulnerable and elligible to not get the vaccine,” Funkhouser said.

For more pandemic response resources like COVID-testing and vaccination appointments you can check your local health department’s website or dial 2-1-1 where someone can help connect you.

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