MERIDEN — The city is seeking a $365,000 grant from the state Department of Public Health to use toward local coronavirus tracking, detection, and prevention efforts.
The city in its application to the state said it plans to use the money in part to hire a temporary contact tracing assistant, who will be responsible for communicating with individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who may have been in close contact with an infected person. Their work will be done through the state’s electronic ContaCT tracing system, according to a request-for-proposals published by the city for the position.
“We also plan on increasing 2 staff person's hours - our Public Health Educator and Community Services Worker - to aid in COVID-19 related efforts,” Crown wrote about the use of the grant.” “Funding has also been earmarked for health education efforts, vaccine planning, purchasing additional KINSA thermometers, and overtime for nurses to work outside of normal business hour COVID vaccine clinics.”
The funding is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Cooperative Agreement, which awards annual funding to state and local health departments to improve the surveillance of diseases.
The terms of the grant would be retroactive May 2020 and run through November 2022, City Manager Tim Coon told city councilors at a recent meeting.
“It’s basically a two-and-a-half-year grant to assist us in such things as contact tracing, laboratory testing volume and capacity, minimizing and preventing the transmission of COVID-19...” Coon said.
Meriden is eligible to receive a 30-month grant award of $364,847 based on its “per-capita and poverty levels,” according to Crown.
The grant terms do not require the city to match any of its own money, Coon said. Councilors at the recent meeting voted to authorize Crown to execute a contract for the funding.
Council Majority Leader David Lowell made a point of commending Crown and her department for the job they’ve done during the pandemic.
“It can’t go without saying that the level of performance of the health and human services director has been really unparalleled for the last six months dealing with COVID-19, its impact in the city,” Lowell said. “Lea has been in front of every issue and accountable for every issue, placing this city in a very good place … It needs to be in the record how well we have done.”
Lowell added that the use of the grant funds will “absolutely go to the highest and best use” and “help with the future management of this disease.”
According to state data, Meriden recorded 1,040 confirmed cases and 35 “probable” cases as of Sept. 13. The city has recorded 79 deaths since the spring.