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Fresno County is partnering with the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission to immediately add 300 contact tracers to help stop a surge of COVID-19 cases. Officials announced on Tuesday that $5.5 million in Fresno County CARES act funding would go toward the effort.

Many of the contact tracers had been volunteering their time through several community based organizations. Now, they are on the county payroll.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our more disadvantaged communities the hardest.”Emilia Reyes, CEO of the Fresno EOC

Supervisors said the contract tracers will help bridge communications gaps that may be preventing rural farm worker communities and other under-served populations from receiving the information and support needed to help contain COVID-19.

Many Community Based Organizations Involved

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our more disadvantaged communities the hardest,” said Emilia Reyes, CEO of the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission. “This partnership with the county and our 17 CBOs is a step in the right direction.”

She says the EOC is pursuing more funding from other sources to compliment what was announced today.

This effort will include education and outreach to vulnerable communities that will be done in a “culturally and linguistically appropriate way,” Reyes said.

COVID-19 testing will be paid for through the contract, as well as training for contact tracers.

Provides Resources to Support Self-Isolation

Reyes said the moment someone is identified as COVID-19 positive, the goal will be to get them the resources they need to isolate for two weeks, with food, transportation, and hotel or motel costs provided.

The contract includes $3.9 million targeting immigrant and refugee outreach efforts. The CBOs involved in that effort include Fresno Building Healthy Communities, Central Valley Health Policy Institute, Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, Centro Binacional, Go Public Schools, and Cultiva La Salud. Others may be added later as needs arise.

The contract also provides $1.6 million dollars focused to serve Black communities. The participating organizations are Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, West Fresno Family Resource Center, African American Clergy Task Force, and Cultural Brokers, Inc.

Officials say the agreement ensures services are provided in Spanish, Hmong, Lao, Khmer, Punjabi, Arabic and indigenous Mexican languages.

“The highlight of today is we’re reaching the most vulnerable populations in our communities,” said Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco. “Our main focus can be summed in up three main components: education, contact tracing, and support services for the case management for all those pieces of information that people may be missing.”

EOC’s Scale an Advantage

“Fresno EOC is the largest non-profit organization here in Fresno County,” said Supervisor Nathan Magsig. “It is one of the largest community based organizations in the nation.”

Fresno’s EOC already has about 30 programs within its umbrella which supervisors believe puts them in a unique position to serve disadvantaged populations through the pandemic.

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