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Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration will offer $250 million in federal grants to community organizations working to combat inequities in the response to the coronavirus, Vice President Kamala Harris announced Monday.

Why it matters: The pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color and other underserved populations. Racial disparities in the coronavirus vaccine rollout have become a particular concern as the U.S. strives for herd immunity.

Details: The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Minority Health will run the initiative, which is called "Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19."

  • The office will offer grants to local governments working with community-based organizations to improve testing efforts, contact tracing and preventative measures.
  • It's projected to fund approximately 30 projects in urban communities and 43 projects in rural communities for two years, according to the HHS.
  • The Office of Minority Health will accept applications through April 20.

What she's saying: "Our goal is to provide underserved communities with the information they need to stay safe and to get vaccinated. And remember, information and education, of course, save lives," Harris said Monday.

  • "When folks have the information and the education, they have the tools that equip them to take care of themselves and their family," she added.

The big picture: People of color remain at higher risk of dying from the coronavirus.

  • Of nearly 32 million people who have received at least one vaccine dose and racial or ethnicity data are available, 65.4% were white, 8.5% were Black, 7.1% were Hispanic, 4.7% were Asian, 1.7% were Native American or Alaskan Native, and 0.3% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, per the CDC.
  • Mistrust of the vaccine continues to be a challenge for Black communities due to centuries of medical malpractice by the government.

Go deeper: COVID-19 is accelerating an unfair future

Go deeper

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 5 hours ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen co-opts Reaganomics phrase for new Davos speech

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a speech this week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. needs to focus on increasing its productive potential, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told world leaders Friday, calling for what she terms "modern supply side economics."

Why it matters: She co-opted a phrase traditionally used by political conservatives to describe low-tax and deregulatory policies — and framed the Biden administration's initiatives as the best path forward to achieve greater national prosperity.

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