Amid concerns that COVID-19 outreach would be halted to immigrant communities, Metro officials say services will be extended into 2021 while funds last.
“[Metro Council] decided to allow Metro to continue to fund the COVID-19- related expenditures beyond Dec. 30, the end of the CARES Act funding. We expect to continue this route as long as funding exists,” said Brian Todd, spokesman for the Metro Public Health Department.
Dwindling CARES Act funds combined with a pandemic that is dragging on means Metro will eventually need new funding sources to continue the same standard of COVID-19 outreach, which includes testing events in immigrant neighborhoods.
According to the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), cutting outreach to the immigrant community in the middle of rising COVID-19 cases would have been devastating.
“They must have realized reaching out to immigrant communities was a priority,” said Chi Chi Faulk, TIRRC Services Director.
For now, outreach to immigrant communities will continue in the form of Spanish-speaking hotlines, disseminating COVID information and travelling health workers from Siloam Health Melrose.
“Ideally, we want to see it continue as long as it can,” said Faulk.
TIRRC officials are currently focusing on educating the community on COVID vaccines and getting the immigrant community access to the vaccine
[We] still have to hold on until everyone can get the vaccine, but we can begin that work and being transparent about the timeline of the vaccine,” she said.