More COVID-19 tests in Fresno County could help people return to work

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno County Board of Supervisors wants to get people back to work as soon as it's safe.

The key to that will be getting more testing done countywide.

"To the extent that we can increase testing and we find that the number of individuals in our community who have COVID-19 begins to drop off proportional to the test we're doing," says Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig. "I think we can begin to open up Fresno County to business."

"Most of this is just going to evaporate into space, but hopefully we can use some of these funds appropriately in Fresno County to get people back to work," says Fresno County Supervisor Steve Brandau.

With the money already here, according to the Fresno County CAO, the cost of testing is not an issue.

"Cost should not be, should not be an impediment to increasing testing," says Jean Rousseau. "Testing is critical like you said. It's everything."

While Fresno County received nearly $82 million in funds, that is smaller than the $90 million sent to the City of Fresno.

None of the other 14 incorporated cities received funds, so some of the county's money could be used to help smaller communities if they have specific pandemic related needs.

Public Health Director Dave Pomaville suggested hiring temporary "contact tracing" to track how infected individuals may have contracted the virus, and contact those they have been around to ask them to quarantine.

Since the pandemic, he's had to shift much of his staff around.

"We are planning to increase our workforce to allow those people to get back to their regular work that remains important in communicable disease and so forth," Pomaville said.

The money could also be used for things like caring for the homeless to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or providing grants to small businesses to offset closure costs.

County leaders will be sharing ideas over the next few weeks on other funding options. If the money isn't all spent by the end of the year, it must be returned to the federal government.

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