As the coronavirus evolves, so does the African American Coalition’s COVID-19 Equity Project. The Coalition administers COVID-19 tests and vaccines out of its clinic on Fulton Street in downtown Fresno, but its reach is countywide with help from a mobile unit. More than 8,900 people have been vaccinated since February, 2021.
The Coalition was formed to connect Fresno’s black community to accurate and timely COVID-19 information and resources. And since it was launched in the fall of 2020, it has made significant strides. Between February and May of 2021, the Coalition provided 38% of African Americans in Fresno County with the vaccine, compared to just 2.5% by the Fresno County Health Department.
Coalition Founder, Shantay Davies-Balch, says most of the reluctance to get vaccinated can be attributed to fear. “The coronavirus is evolving, little is known about how to treat the virus, and the vaccines are new.” So, the team is trying to slow the spread of COVID-19 through outreach, education, and access to testing.
The Coalition is working on getting out into the community, discussing the virus, and sharing how people can protect their families. Project Coordinator, Marcie Santana, said, “We have pop-up vaccination events, and canvas nearby neighborhoods while we are in the area. It helps to have that face-to-face connection with residents instead of having them read a flyer or a website. And it allows them to ask any questions they may have.”
The clinic just kicked off its latest phase of COVID-19 testing on October 19. Currently, the Coalition is administering free PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, which involves a client using a swab to collect a sample from the nose. It takes a few minutes to register and just seconds to collect a sample. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes, and Coalition staff members are on-hand to guide you through the process. You can expect lab results within three business days.
Marcie says Community Healthcare Workers have been crucial to the success of the program. As the virus changes, this team works to meet the needs of the community. “We have fluid schedules and a lot of requests for pop-up events. Our team members are out in our clinics and neighborhoods, risking possible exposure as they work to keep families healthy. They are truly our frontline workers. We could not do it without them.”
Safe and free COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone age 13 and up—regardless of immigration or insurance status. Register here for a COVID-19 vaccine at the African American Coalition’s COVID-19 Equity Project.
Right now, the Coalition is accepting walk-ins for COVID-19 tests at its Fulton Clinic on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The Coalition’s mobile unit is available by request and can travel to locations around Fresno County. Marcie says they can go to schools, churches, businesses, and more. Call 559-312-8044 for clinic hours or more information on the mobile unit.