On the day the national state of emergency was announced, George Fernandez, founder and CEO of Color & Culture and Latino Connection, contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) with a first-of-its-kind idea to help underserved communities access essential COVID-19 resources and education during this unprecedented time. Through months of hard work and planning, the “CATE” initiative was officially launched in August 2020 during a press conference with the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine. CATE stands for Community-Accessible Testing & Education and has made more than 100 stops across the state between August 23 and December 15, 2020.
Latino Connection designed and developed the branding for the international, medical-grade RV used for this initiative and created partnerships with local providers in the regions CATE visited. Latino Connection’s community health workers and bilingual brand ambassadors guided patients through registration and provided COVID-19 education. They also distributed PPE (personal protective equipment) kits and, depending on the needs of the provider and organizations of the specific region, followed up with patients regarding their results.
The proof of CATE’s success can be found in the reach of the initiative. More than 5,000 COVID-19 tests were administered across PA, particularly in vulnerable and underserved communities that may not have had access otherwise. CATE has also provided 500 flu shots, 10,000 PPE kits, resources and education in both English and Spanish to the more than 11,000 people that turned out at all of these events.
Today, CATE continues to be a vital resource in the community by providing access to COVID-19 vaccinations and at-home test kits. Since April 2021, CATE conducted 120 vaccination clinics in partnership with DOH, Highmark Blue Shield and Independence Blue Cross Foundation. CATE also hosts vaccination clinics and educational events in partnership with Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) and MyVaccineCounts.