Dr. Albert Berkoh Bluefield State College will receive a nearly $200,000 grant to reduce COVID-related health disparities and promote health equity among Mercer County’s minority populations. Dr. Albert Berkoh, the grant’s author, and the Applied Research Foundation of West Virginia at BSC recently received notification of the grant’s approval from the WV Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau of Public Health. While the COVID-19 vaccination rate among adults in Mercer County is 54.9%, only 5.5% of the County’s African-American population is fully vaccinated. “The initiatives of this grant include addressing the burden of COVID-19 health disparities among Mercer County’s African-American population and focus on increasing the immunization rate among the target population through a variety of community outreach activities,” Dr. Berkoh said. “We will collaborate with the Mercer County Health Department, local churches, and community centers to conduct workshops and raise awareness of preventative measures to minimize SARS-Co-V-2 transmission,” the Cole School of Business faculty member continued. The two-year grant will underwrite the Mercer County Health Department’s delivery of 25 COVID vaccination clinics per year at health care organizations and community-based centers. Coordinated initiatives include improving understanding of COVID-19 and removing barriers to vaccination access among disproportionately affected populations, and enhancing local coordination of vaccine equity efforts. “This grant strengthens the relationship between Bluefield State College and the community. It will substantially reduce the spread of COVID-19 among African-American population and the underinsured populations of Mercer County,” Dr. Berkoh explained.