Take the Lead

Community Leaders Can Slow the Spread of COVID-19

It is important to help your community members manage and prevent chronic disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified several groups who are at a higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19. These groups include residents with uncontrolled pre-existing chronic conditions (such as high blood pressure and diabetes). There are ways your community members can control chronic conditions at home through self-monitoring, eating healthy and daily physical activity. Take the lead in supporting a healthy community by encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and helping your community self-manage chronic diseases at home.

As a community leader, you play an important role in educating your community and setting an example for residents and other organizations to follow as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. We know from our disproportionate health outcomes in Louisiana that a virus like COVID-19 can hit harder in vulnerable communities, where many people are living with chronic health issues like hypertension and diabetes—the top two underlying factors in COVID-19 deaths. And the Louisiana Department of Health is reporting data that shows African Americans are at a higher risk of death due to COVID-19 in Louisiana. You can make an impact by sharing resources, such as the link to our Living Well-Ahead webpage, with your community to educate on how to manage and prevent chronic disease during this time.

  • Consider How Your Organization Can Support the Local Community

    Coordinate with local health officials on ways to ensure care and services for special populations. Congregations and organizations with experience working with underserved communities (ex: inmates, homeless persons, single-parent families, public housing residents, low-wage workers and more) can work with local health officials to ensure these groups receive appropriate care and services. We can help you connect with local health officials! Email wellahead@la.gov to get connected.

  • Take Action in Your Community
    • Stay informed about local COVID-19 information and updates.
    • Put your emergency operations and communication plans into action.
    • Communicate with your community members if events and services are changed, postponed or cancelled.
    • Emphasize everyday preventive actions through intensified communications with employees and visitors to your organization.
    • Encourage employees and your community to follow LDH’s guide to stop the spread of COVID-19.
    • During an event, if someone becomes sick separate them into an isolated room and ask them to leave as soon as possible.

Reopening: The New Normal

As Louisiana begins to reopen community organizations in a phased approach, check out the guidance for your organization type.

Use Your Voice

We’re all looking for reliable information right now, as well as good news. As a trusted member of your community, you can help to spread the word about staying healthy during COVID-19, especially for those residents who are managing chronic diseases at home. Here are a few ways you can use your voice:


Having dependable information on your website for your community is important because they know and trust you as a community leader. Copy our resources onto your website, or link back to our community member webpage to ensure you have the information our residents need.

If your organization has a presence on social media, stay active! Local Facebook groups, community forums and discussion boards can offer support and encouragement to people who are sheltering at home alone, as well as being a good place to share information. If you need help with content, you can use these templates. Please tag Well-Ahead Louisiana so we can see and like your posts!

Are you providing online services for your community? Religious services, exercise classes and cooking demonstrations are just a few of the services that are now being streamed digitally. Taking time to mention chronic disease self-management resources at the start or end of your videos could be critical for your participants. If possible, share the link to our community member webpage on your video.

Keep in contact with your stakeholders through email! MailChimpSender and Benchmark Email are some of the email marketing/messaging services that offer free packages to users. Be sure to share resources to help self-manage their chronic conditions and ask your clients, members or even donors to pass the resources along to friends and family members.

In the News

Local TV and radio stations, as well as local newspapers, are looking for informational content right now around COVID-19, especially if it’s locally based. If you’re not sure how to contact your local media, you can call the news desk at the local paper or radio station, or the assignments editor at your TV station, and ask for the health reporter. You can also use this press release template and email it to a reporter, editor or assignments editor.

Here’s a list of many of the local newspaperstelevision stations and radio stations if you need to find one in your area.

Geaux Virtual

Instead of canceling your existing programs, take them online! Try out video conferencing to continue your work in the community. This is a great alternative for offering services like health coaching, fitness classes, cooking demonstrations and more. Check out the video conferencing services below to get started! Some rules and restrictions, like time limits, do apply. Contact us at wellahead@la.gov if you need support geauxing virtual.

Help Your Residents Eat Healthy

With limited doctor visits and emergency services available, residents with elevated blood pressure and blood sugar need to be aware and careful of food choices and serving sizes that are high in salt and sugar.

Restaurant owners and managers with curbside pick-up and delivery options can help our communities manage their diabetes and blood pressure by offering items with reduced sodium, fat and sugar.

Restaurants can also:

  • Consider downsizing on portions and cost, or offering healthy family-sized meal options.
  • Limit items that may seem healthy but are not, such as salad dressing, cheese, bacon, and condiments. Rather than adding them to the meal, place them on the side or ask patrons if they need certain condiments.
  • Offer more veggie side dishes instead of high calorie, high starch side dishes.
  • Prepare and offer more baked, steamed, grilled, or broiled instead of fried entrees.

Community organizations can partner with local farmers or farmers’ markets to expand access to healthy food options. For example, Big River Economic and Agricultural Development Alliance (BREDA) in Baton Rouge is holding a “Drive Thru Market” at Pennington Biomedical Center.

No Kid Hungry is a national organization working to end childhood hunger. To learn more about how your community can help or get help from No Kid Hungry, visit their COVID-19 specific webpage.

Ensure Access to Chronic Disease Management Supplies

Residents diagnosed with high blood pressure and/or diabetes have daily supply needs to self-monitor and manage their chronic disease. When individuals do not have access or enough supplies to manage their chronic disease this can become a life-threatening situation.

Often times, health insurance providers can work with their members to provide preventive and management supplies. If someone is in need of supplies, have them call their health insurance provider and speak with their case manager or a customer service representative to review what supplies they might be eligible to receive.

If the person does not have health insurance, encourage them to sign up for Louisiana Medicaid Services. There are several ways to apply:

Did you know that many pharmacies now deliver medication? If someone with a chronic disease is worried about making regular trips to the pharmacy, they can call and check with their pharmacy to learn if delivery is an option!

For patients having trouble affording their supplies, there are some patient assistance programs available:

Help Your Community Quit Tobacco

According to the CDC, tobacco users are more likely than nonsmokers to develop chronic diseases such as, heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. Residents with these chronic diseases and COVID-19 are at high-risk for complications.

Quitting tobacco results in immediate health benefits and greatly reduces tobacco-related disease, disability, and death, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Many of the health problems linked to tobacco-related illness can greatly compromise a person’s overall quality of life, making it harder for a person to breathe, get around, work or play.

Help us move Louisiana’s health forward by helping your community members quit tobacco. Living tobacco-free helps to protect Louisiana families and communities every day. Below are free quit resources available to Louisiana residents.

Quit With Us, Louisiana (1-800-Quit-Now): is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at no cost to Louisiana residents. It incorporates evidence-based strategies for quitting tobacco through telephone and web-based tobacco cessation coaching. It also provides nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), text messaging support, printed materials, and referral to community resources. To learn more, visit the Quitline’s website, www.quitwithusla.org. You can also encourage community members to follow the Quitline on Facebook and Twitter for encouragement and support. You can even share the Quitline’s posts and tweets on your community organization’s Facebook or Twitter to amplify quit tobacco messaging in your community!

Smoking Cessation Trust: The Smoking Cessation Trust requires participants to meet certain criteria, and is a great resource for those who qualify. Eligibility requirements for applicants include:

  • A current Louisiana resident
  • To have begun smoking on or before September 1st, 1988

The Trust provides cessation medications, individual/group cessation counseling, and telephone quitline support at no cost to qualified residents. Please call (855) 259-6346 or visit www.smokingcessationtrust.org for more information.

Share Youth Quit Resources with Parents, Teachers and Schools

Louisiana Tobacco Quitline (1-800-Quit-Now) Youth Support Program

The Louisiana Tobacco Quitline offers a youth support program for tobacco users ages 13 to 17. The program includes support tailored to the unique challenges faced by youth through telephone and web-based cessation coaching. The Louisiana Tobacco Quitline also connects youth callers to national and community based cessation resources. For more information, please call 1-800-Quit-Now or visit www.quitwithusla.org.

Tobacco Cessation Resources in Your Community

The Well-Ahead Louisiana Community Resource Guide helps you find local resources for topics like breastfeeding, diabetes, healthy eating, physical fitness, stress management and tobacco cessation. To search for local tobacco cessation resources available in your community, please visit our Community Resource Guide. You can submit additional community tobacco cessation resources to add to our ongoing list! 

Start Something New

Changing health related behaviors begins with changing the conversation around health. Now is a perfect time to begin that conversation! You can help your community prevent or manage chronic conditions taking steps such as:

Becoming a WellSpot

WellSpots are workplaces in Louisiana that voluntarily implement healthy changes in their environment to help their employees and community live well. Places that meet certain wellness benchmarks are designated as a Level 1, 2 or 3 WellSpot. Being designated as a WellSpot is a big accomplishment! Upon designation, you will receive a recognition certificate from the Louisiana Department of Health. You will also receive an official WellSpot decal to display on the entrance of your school and a promotional toolkit to help you promote your designation on social media, to the press and more! Learn more here.

Implementing a Worksite Wellness Program

Placing value on your employees’ health inspires a happier, more productive workforce – no matter how big or small your workplace is!  A major goal of a worksite wellness program is to make the work environment supportive of healthy behaviors like healthy eating, being physically active, managing stress and quitting tobacco. Check out our step-by-step guide to implementing a worksite wellness program.

Starting a National Diabetes Prevention Program

You can help your community prevent type 2 diabetes by offering the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) at your workplace or community organization. The National DPP can cut a person’s risk of getting type 2 diabetes in half and reduce the serious conditions associated with prediabetes. Learn more about the National DPP. Email wellahead@la.gov to get started today!

And More!

Small choices towards wellness, enabled by the environments we’re in every day, give us the opportunity for balance. Be a leader in making changes that that gives your community the chance to feel better and enjoy life a little longer. For more information on healthy changes you can make in your organization, check out the WellSpot benchmarks for your organization type!