Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

In 2020, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) began tracking the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts of nine communities across the United States with the goal of better understanding how the pandemic, and the local response to it, is impacting health, well-being, and equity in those communities. Lessons from these nine Sentinel Communities may also be informative to other communities on their journeys to respond to and recover from COVID-19 and to promote health and well-being more broadly.

Previous reports summarized the pandemic's early impacts (published July 2020), the ways cross-sector collaboration has contributed to ongoing response and recovery efforts (published October 2020), and the impact of the pandemic on children and families (published March 2021). In this report, over a year into the pandemic, we review efforts toward vaccination and community response and recovery across sectors—and the critical gaps that remain.

The past year has shown that recovery from COVID-19 has demanded a response across sectors—health, economic, housing, education, and more—and communities have approached their responses across these sectors in different ways. The American Rescue Plan also brings historic funding to local communities who have significant discretion over how funds are used. While some have used COVID-19 response and recovery resources to reaffirm their approaches to health and equity, other communities continue to encounter long-standing barriers to solving such entrenched community problems.

This report, based on information gathered through mid-May 2021, summarizes the year-long path that nine communities—Finney County, Kan.; Harris County, Texas; Milwaukee, Wis.; Mobile, Ala.; San Juan County, N.M.; Sanilac County, Mich.; Tacoma, Wash.; Tampa, Fla.; and White Plains, N.Y.—traveled with respect to COVID-19 vaccination, health and well-being, economic recovery, equitable housing, and in-person schooling. It also notes the gaps that must still be addressed to achieve truly equitable community recovery.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.