Covid-19, novel coronavirus 2019
Novel Coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) (CDC Image)

MONTEREY COUNTY — A new community program called VIDA (Virus Integrated Distribution of Aide) was announced with a formal name during the March 31 press briefing for Monterey County, in which the City of Gonzales is a founding partner group.

The formal start to the newly named program came along with the hiring of 110 new workers. The group’s mission is to help and support community members who are most impacted by the pandemic directly or indirectly.

They will provide outreach and information and assist with the wrap-around services that would help individuals and family members with their needs in terms of quarantine and adequate isolation to recover from Covid-19. Their outreach will be conducted primarily in four languages: Spanish, Triqui, Zapoteco and Mixteco.

VIDA was formed through a partnership of County of Monterey, Monterey County Health Department and Community Foundation for Monterey County, along with 10 participating community-based organizations: Building Healthy Communities, California Rural Legal Assistance, Centro Binacional Para El Desarrollo Indigena Oaxaqueno (CBDIO), Center for Community Advocacy, CHISPA, City of Gonzales, Lideres Campesinas, Mujeres en Accion, Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance and The Village project, Inc.

“Even before the pandemic, our community lacked access to cultural and linguistic information and services,” said Andrea Diaz Aquino, program coordinator with CBDIO. “For this reason the indigenous farmworkers community has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.”

Aquino credited overcrowded housing, language barrier and lack of information and accessibility to Covid-19 services and resources as the reasons for higher risk of Covid-19 infection among the population.

“Our goal with VIDA is to ensure our community is getting the information in the language they feel comfortable,” Aquino said. “Our team has been trained to provide wrap-around services for people who have tested positive and to provide information about Covid-19 prevention, promoting that everyone in our community gets tested, education around the vaccine and supporting them to get registered for the Covid-19 vaccine.”

Aquino shared stories of people being misinformed, thinking the Covid-19 tests are painful or that people may get hauled off without their consent if they’re found to be infected.

“A part of the work we’re doing is about how those community workers really are the change agents in the community and we want to make sure that they are resourced,” said Krista Hanni, planning manager for Monterey County Health Department.

Hanni said earlier efforts before the official VIDA name were reaching 1,700 per week by early March.

Monterey County has allocated $4.9 million to Community Foundation to support the VIDA health worker program.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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