Health Equity

Guiding Principles

Reduce health disparities. Use data-driven approaches. Foster meaningful engagement with community institutions and diverse leaders. Lead culturally responsive outreach. Reduce stigma, including stigma associated with race and ethnicity.


All people have the opportunity to attain the highest level of health possible.


  • To reduce the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 among populations at increased risk for infection, severe illness, and death.
  • To broadly address health disparities and inequities related to COVID-19 with a holistic, all-of-response approach.
  • To develop a strategic plan to help us realize these goals.


Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing efforts to address avoidable inequities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and healthcare disparities. The population health impact of COVID-19 has exposed longstanding inequities that have systematically undermined the physical, social, economic, and emotional health of racial and ethnic minority populations and other population groups that are bearing a disproportionate burden of COVID-19.

Persistent health disparities combined with historic housing patterns, work circumstances, and other factors have put members of some racial and ethnic minority populations at higher risk for COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and death. As we continue to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on the health of different populations, immediate action is critical to reduce growing COVID-19 disparities among the populations known to be at disproportionate risk.

CDC’s COVID-19 Response Health Equity Strategy broadly seeks to improve the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by focusing on four priorities:

  1. Expanding the evidence base.
  2. Expanding programs and practices for testing, contact tracing, isolation, healthcare, and recovery from the impact of unintended negative consequences of mitigation strategies in order to reach populations that have been put at increased risk. Examples of potential unintended negative consequences include loss of health insurance; food, housing, and income insecurity; mental health concerns; substance use; and violence resulting from factors like social isolation, financial stress, and anxiety.
  3. Expanding program and practice activities to support essential and frontline workers to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Examples of essential and frontline workers include healthcare, food industry, and
    correctional facility workers.
  4. Expanding an inclusive workforce equipped to assess and address the needs of an increasingly diverse U.S. population.

Populations and Place-Based Focus

  • Racial and ethnic minority populations
  • People living in rural or frontier areas
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Essential and frontline workers
  • People with disabilities
  • People with substance use disorders
  • People who are justice-involved (incarcerated persons)
  • Non-U.S.-born persons

Intended Outcomes

  • Reduced COVID-19-related health disparities.
  • Increased testing, contact tracing, isolation options, and preventive care and disease management in populations at increased risk for COVID-19.
  • Ensured equity in nationwide distribution and administration of future COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Implemented evidence-based policies, systems, and environmental strategies to mitigate social and health inequities related to COVID-19.
  • Reduced COVID-19-associated stigma and implicit bias.
  • Expanded cultural responsiveness and application of health equity principles among an increasingly diverse COVID-19 responder workforce.

Time Period of Strategy

The Health Equity Strategy is focused on immediate actions that can be taken to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and tracks intended outcomes.

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