San Joaquin County distributes COVID-19 kits to most vulnerable

Local News

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Washable face coverings, hand sanitizer and useful information were all hand-packed for thousands of COVID-19 kits that will be distributed to the San Joaquin County community. 

FOX40’s partners with The Record attended Wednesday’s packaging event in Stockton, where dozens of volunteers assembled the coronavirus prevention kits as part of San Joaquin County Public Health Services’ newly-launched “Mask On” campaign.

“With that great volunteer spirit is then to start disseminating these kits to the hotspot areas and the communities that are most vulnerable to COVID-19 right now,” said United Way of San Joaquin County CEO Kristen Birtwhistle.

Birtwhistle said the focus is getting the kits out to the most vulnerable populations, like the Latino community and migrant farmworkers who are being disproportionately impacted by the virus. 

“We have got to reach out in a culturally specific way that makes them understand the reason why this is so important,” she told FOX40. “And so that’s our job over the course of the next three months or until we start seeing a decline in the rates in San Joaquin County.”

Over the next few weeks, volunteers will distribute 100,000 kits to parts of the county that are hotspots for the virus. 

“We are a group to do the work, the real work in the fields to give directly to the farmworkers. That’s our target,” said farmworker advocate Luis Magaña.

Magaña said part of his job is to overcome language and cultural barriers to distribute the kits and educate workers and others in the community on how to stay safe and find resources. 

The campaign is a collaborative effort between County Public Health Services, United Way, Dignity Health, El Concilio, the Stockton Unified School District and several other organizations.

“Bringing all key parties together for the greater good of the whole and it’s been a wonderful project we, hopefully, will continue moving forward and seeing,” Birtwhistle said. “We start to see a decline, flattening of the curve in these cases in San Joaquin County.”

The campaign also features ads displayed throughout the county showing prominent local leaders explaining why they wear masks to encourage compliance. 

“The beauty of this campaign in so many ways is that we all have a reason why we need to mask,” Birtwhistle said. “We’re doing it for our children, we’re doing it for our grandchildren, we’re doing it for our community, we’re doing it for our familia.”

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