Identifying Priority IssuesTexas Health's comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment, completed every three years, is our research foundation. We conduct focus groups, windshield and community readiness surveys, and interview various community stakeholders to identify the most pressing health issues: behavioral health, chronic disease and access, health literacy and navigation.
We also incorporate public health information from local health departments and data on social determinants of health in our assessment. Understanding consumers' socioeconomic status, neighborhood and physical environment, education, employment, social support networks, and healthcare access is essential to identifying and supporting the most vulnerable populations.
It is estimated that 40% of people who have the COVID-19 virus are asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms), and those asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus.* With testing and contact tracing limited early in the pandemic, it was difficult to determine how widespread COVID-19 was in the local community.
In response to these factors, Texas Health and UT Southwestern Medical Center launched the DFW COVID-19 Prevalence Study to understand how many people, by demographic groups, had been infected in North Texas to help develop strategies to improve public health. The study recruited two ways: a community-based sample of adults from Dallas and Tarrant Counties and a non-medical essential employee sample. At the completion of the study, more than 21,300 individuals in the two counties participated and received free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antibody tests.
Texas Health plans to continue incorporating findings into future outreach and education strategies. We are also collecting qualitative data at the ZIP code level to understand the pandemic's impact on communities, including job loss, food insecurity, housing and other social determinants of health.
*Centers for Disease Control as of 9/10/20.