The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) will partner with Morehouse School of Medicine to help the communities hit hardest by the global pandemic.

HHS announced on Tuesday that OMH selected the Morehouse School of Medicine as the awardee of the new initiative, the National Infrastructure for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 within Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities (NIMIC).

For the three-year project, OMH and the Morehouse School of Medicine will work with a network of community-based organizations across the nation to deliver COVID-19 education and information on resources including COVID-19 testing, health care and social services, and recovery and resilience strategies to help racial and ethnic minority, rural and socially vulnerable communities that have been most impacted by the pandemic.

COVID-19 has exacerbated key social determinants of health (SDoH) in these communities including unemployment, limited access to health care, food and housing insecurities, and lack of transportation. Though non-medical conditions, SDoH frequently lead to poor health status and serious health outcomes, as well as an added vulnerability to COVID-19.

The NIMIC initiative will work to address these issues in disadvantaged communities. “Underlying social determinants of health and disparate burdens of chronic medical conditions are contributing to worse COVID-19-related outcomes in minority and socially vulnerable communities, and this partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine is essential to improving our overall response,” said Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D. in the announcement.

The initiative is schedule to begin in July, with the first award of $14.6 million.