Funding for Garfield County’s postponed Promotoras efforts still being used to support Latino Covid outreach
Federal grant money that was to be used to pay for Spanish-language Covid-19 educational outreach in Garfield County — before a contract to carry out the work was rejected last week — is not lost, the county’s head public health official said.
In fact, the money is being reallocated for that same type of outreach effort. The delivery method will just be different and less direct, Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long said during a meeting of the county commissioners on Monday.
Commissioners last week denied a contract for Denver-based Trailhead Institute to serve as the fiscal agent for the planned Promotoras Project.
The project — which still may be implemented in some manner after the first of the year — is aimed at disseminating information to the area Latino community about the novel coronavirus, how to protect oneself from contracting it, how to prevent its spread and what to do if exposed to the virus or experiencing symptoms of Covid-19.
In the meantime, the portion of a $50,000 planning grant that was part of federal CARES Act pass-through dollars from the state that was to support the project is still available, and will not be forfeited, Long said.
It does have to be spent by the end of the year, as much of the initial round of federal Covid-response funds do, she said.
“We are already reallocating that and determining how best to spend that money to reach out to our Hispanic community,” Long said of the remaining portion of the planning grant.
The grant, awarded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, was meant to help the county curb the spread of Covid-19 and be able to lift some restrictions on businesses and public gatherings.
Much of the materials and targeted information to be delivered to the Hispanic community in Spanish had already been developed, Long said.
The original idea was to use specially trained bilingual “promotoras” to speak directly to Hispanic residents and business owners in a way that would resonate and be more culturally sensitive, according to the project description.
County commissioners balked at the proposed sole-source contract with the nonprofit Trailhead Institute to administer the program, saying it should have been a competitive bidding process including local organizations. Commissioners also were concerned that undocumented workers would be paid to do some of the promotoras work.
Several members of the public logged on via Zoom to the commissioners’ regular Monday meeting to encourage the board to reconsider the contract and roll out the program as soon as possible.
“It doesn’t help to wait until January. This is happening right now,” Glenwood Springs resident Jenny Trumble said, referring to the disparate spread of Covid-19 within the Hispanic community compared to the larger population.
“This virus has no boundaries, and doesn’t care who you are,” she said. “We need to do everything we can to help everybody, so we can keep schools open, keep businesses open, and keep everybody happy.”
Elizabeth Velasco described herself as a leader in the Latino community through her work with immigrant residents as a certified medical interpreter.
“The Latino community is not monolithic; we are very diverse,” she said. “The people I work with are very scared, and do not know what to do if they get sick, and what their rights are at their place of employment. This is an opportunity to focus your efforts and reach people.”
Long said the Public Health Department will continue to communicate information in Spanish through a variety of media, and is willing to share the materials with other organizations that could also help disseminate it.
But it’s too late to reconsider the Trailhead contract or to enter a competitive bid process before the end of the year, and still be able to use the CARES money to pay for the Promotoras Project, she said.
“We will still utilize the money, and the resources. We’re just shifting a little bit,” Long said.
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Free COVID-19 testing will be available in Carbondale starting Tuesday, Dec. 1.