• June 19, 2021
 UTEP joins national COVID-19 Network to help food production, distribution workers

Photo courtesy UTEP

UTEP joins national COVID-19 Network to help food production, distribution workers

The University of Texas at El Paso joined Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)’s National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN) of strategic partners to inform community-driven response, recovery and resiliency strategies for addressing the impact of COVID-19 on communities.

University officials say that, in response to the needs of workers in the farm, dairy and meatpacking industries, UTEP has created alliances with several community organizations including Familias Triunfadoras and Ayuda in El Paso, Doña Ana County, and Cactus Nazarene Ministries in Moore County in the Texas Panhandle.

As part of the joint effort, community health workers known colloquially as promotoras have been distributing culturally and linguistically appropriate information about COVID-19, to include preventive measures, civic responsibility, and county specific information on where to get tested and obtain assistance.

The promotoras also have been distributing reusable face masks and hand sanitizers to address a lack of access to those essential items reported by many individuals in the targeted groups.

“Being an NCRN partner has been of value to our institution, the Paso del Norte region and beyond,” said Nora Hernandez, principal investigator (PI) of the UTEP chapter of the network and manager for the University’s Office of Research and Sponsored Projects. “We recognize that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color and workers in the food production and distribution industries. During this pandemic, they have not only been working to put food on their tables, but on all of ours. We value their work and want to ensure we provide them the material and resources to keep them healthy and safe.”

The UTEP contingent also includes Patricia Juarez-Carrillo, Ph.D., coordinator of the Center for Inter-American Border Studies (CIBS); Josiah Heyman, Ph.D., director of CIBS and professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology; Gina Nuñez-Mchiri, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program; and senior sociology major Adriana Orozco.

In addition to her role as UTEP’s PI, Hernandez is serving on NCRN’s National Advisory Board to contribute to the overall approach, development and execution of the network’s national activities. Juarez-Carrillo serves on the National Community Coalition Board comprised of members who represent areas highly impacted by COVID-19.

The launch of the NCRN occurs alongside the release of new digital technology accessible through the NCRN website. It provides location-based recommendations on where community members can get a COVID-19 test, fill prescriptions and get a COVID-19 vaccine when distribution increases in the coming months.

“Our national network connects individuals, families, community organizations and clinical providers to timely and relevant COVID-19 information and services in their neighborhood,” said Dominic Mack, M.D., professor of family medicine and co-director of the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network in the National Center for Primary Care at MSM.

The NCRN launch follows a $40 million award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health to coordinate a strategic network focused on delivering COVID-19-related information to communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

To access new COVID-19 resources, click here. .

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