On Tuesday, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond and Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, district health director, announced the launch of two stepvans funded with federal CARES Act money that will be owned and deployed by the DeKalb County Board of Health (DCBOH). By Dec. 31, 2020, two additional vans and six mobile medical units will be in operation.

The stepvans cost $262,000 each, for a total expenditure of $1.1 million; the mobile medical units will cost $282,000, each, for a total expenditure of $1.7 million. Equipped with medical equipment and in-take and examination rooms, the six mobile medical units will allow the board of health to expand to provide telehealth services, immunizations, and community outreach to vulnerable populations in DeKalb County.

“The health, safety, and economic well-being of all DeKalb residents are the primary objectives of the county’s response to the pandemic,” Thurmond said. “We are fortunate to have (Ford) and her excellent team as partners.”

The step vans will expand the current mobile farmers market program, sponsored by the county’s board of health and the county Cooperative Extension Service. The vans will provide nutritional and healthcare services, which Ford said are essential to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19 and improve the health of the vulnerable populations in DeKalb County.

“These mobile units will be a game-changer for health care delivery in DeKalb County,” Ford said. “With these units, the Board of Health will address the current pandemic, as well as the underlying chronic health issues in the county that led to over-representation of populations of color in COVID-19 cases, such as hypertension, diabetes, and food insecurity.”

The DeKalb County government has allocated to the board of health a total of $16 million of CARES Act grant funding. A total of more than $19 million has been budgeted from the CARES Act funds for health & wellness, mental health, as well as prevention and education.

In addition, $1.8 million has been allocated for initiatives that address food insecurity including monthly food distribution events in communities experiencing high rates of COVID-19 infections and food insecurity. To date, more than 25,000 families have received food assistance.

More than $5 million has been spent on housing assistance and homelessness programs.

On Tuesday, Dekalb County CEO Michael Thurmond announced that the county's board of health had acquired two stepvans for the purpose of creating a fleet of mobile wellness units. (Photo: Dekalb County Government)

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