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From the arrival of COVID-19 in early March, to the powerful protests against racism in June, to the struggles with reopening schools safely and navigating a contentious election, it felt like 2020 threw something new at us every day.  But we’re still here, and public health is more important than ever.

As COVID-19 began to grip New York City, we worked closely with you and our partners at the Health Department to contain the epidemic and to ensure programs could adapt to new virtual settings. We secured funding for 22 projects and raised over $25 million from our institutional and philanthropic partners to ensure continuity and provide struggling New Yorkers the public health support they needed. As the year draws to a close, we want to pause and reflect on the powerful initiatives you helped us support. For a full picture of your impact on New York City’s public health, please take a moment to read our Year in Review report. 

Supporting Mothers & Babies

2020 highlighted what those working in public health have long known: racism is an ongoing public health crisis. Our work with the Health Department in maternal and infant health intentionally centers the complex histories of trauma many communities have experienced. For too many Black people, the experience of giving birth is itself traumatic and potentially deadly. Black women in NYC are 8X more likely to die of pregnancy related causes than white women. 

The Health Department created the MHQIN to combat high rates of near-death experiences and deaths that disproportionately affect mothers of color, revealed by the stark data emerging from the work of the Health Department and FPHNYC, and supported by Merck for Mothers. This initiative delivers targeted interventions to improve the quality of clinical care and engage community members in advocating for respectful, just, and appropriate care for all mothers. These efforts are expected to reduce the unacceptably high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in NYC

Combatting the COVID-19 Epidemic 

Monitoring diseases and the changing number of cases in populations will always be fundamental public health work, as 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic made painfully clear. Through partnerships with the CDC Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and Open Society Foundations, FPHNYC was instrumental in securing support for the expansion and enhancement of a statistical software called SaTScan, which identifies clusters of cases more precisely and rapidly.

Thanks to SaTScan, the Health Department identified growing clusters and immediately began public messaging and targeted community outreach to curb further transmission. 

The Year Ahead

As we look ahead to 2021, we’re hopeful about all we can accomplish together. We anticipate new challenges and opportunities, especially with ensuring the equitable distribution of vaccines while combating hesitancy in communities that have been hit hardest by COVID. We look forward to continuing to advocate for improved public health for all, and for the opportunity for all New Yorkers to thrive.

We envision a city where every New Yorker can live their healthiest life, where our public health systems are strong and support our city in whatever challenges we might face next. We’re confident that vision can be reached, if we work together and continue to invest in public health for all.