Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) visited San Benito County on April 8 as part of his “district work period to get out wherever I can.” During his tour of the county he stopped to visit the Community Food Bank of San Benito County, the high-tech company Nanotronics, and then the San Benito Health Foundation, where he was met in the parking lot by CEO and director Rosa Vivian Fernandez and others prior to going inside and touring the facility.
On a day that vehicles were lined up around the health foundation as residents received COVID-19 vaccines and waited the mandatory 15 minutes before driving away, Panetta said he wanted to share the message of how “the federal government is actually working for the people by providing supplies to these federal-funded health clinics throughout the Central Coast.”
“This is what government is supposed to do,” he told BenitoLink. “It affects people’s lives. This is what it’s about, hopefully keeping up and winning the race of injections versus infections.”
He motioned toward the line of people receiving vaccinations.
“People are doing what they need to do and I’m just glad the federal government is involved in this and actually playing its part and should have from the very beginning in helping with supplies and logistics and making sure that shots get in arms,” he said.
The Health Foundation was at odds earlier this year with San Benito County over allocations of COVID-19 vaccines.
In the two weeks that he has been touring the Central Coast, Panetta said he has witnessed a sense of optimism “not felt over the past year.”
“It’s all about getting the vaccines out there and people getting a little control back in their lives,” he said, adding, “Right now with the American Rescue Plan Act that was passed you’re going see significant amounts of money come into the health clinic, the county of San Benito, Hollister, San Juan Bautista, our schools and Gavilan College.”
Panetta announced on March 30 that San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties would receive $25.46 million in federal funding through ARPA. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on March 11.
According to a press release, “The funding will help counties and community health centers prevent, mitigate and respond to COVID-19 and enhance healthcare services and infrastructure. ARPA includes $6.1 billion in public health funding for counties and community health centers experiencing the greatest need during the pandemic.”
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