TOLLESON, AZ — Community health workers will visit every home in Tolleson offering coronavirus prevention advice and health services in the hard-hit city.
The door-to-door outreach is one of several new public health efforts in Tolleson, which has seen infection rate double the Maricopa County average. The ABC15 Investigators are learning from government officials and health workers that several communities seeing more viral spread have commonalities such as working-class families, higher minority populations, and multigenerational households.
Tolleson, situated near the interchange of I-10 and Loop 101 in the West Valley, has nearly 8,000 residents.
'My community members deserve to have every resource available to make sure they remain safe and healthy during COVID," said Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar.
Mayor Tovar said the city also has about 30,000 workers who are employed by big warehouses and other essential industries.
The city is hiring eight part-time community health workers, called promotoras in Spanish, to knock on every resident's door in the city. They will give a COVID-19 "care package“ with information in Spanish and English of how to quarantine, how to get tested. The promotoras will also provide an assessment to see if residents need additional health, financial, or other social services.
Tolleson residents who test positive for coronavirus and can't self-quarantine at home due to living arrangements may also be eligible for a free motel room until they recover.
Tovar worked with the Maricopa County Public Health Department and Supervisor Steve Gallardo to develop their multipronged approach to reduce coronavirus transmission. Free testing is also offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the Tolleson city hall parking lot, and city officials are distributing free masks. Tovar said results are coming back in two to three days.
In addition, the city has also suspended water shutoffs for residents who can't pay their bills. Tovar said there are also rental assistance and free food for families who are struggling due to the pandemic.
Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar is getting calls from her constituents about the virus and the impact on their families.
“The ones I dread are the calls that when you get when someone’s passed away,” Tovar said. “Those are very difficult conversations, and your heart just hurts, I mean, because these are things that we can be preventing.”
Several zip codes in West Phoenix and one in south Glendale have some of the highest reported coronavirus case numbers in the state. However, only Tolleson and Guadalupe are receiving such comprehensive public health services because they were specifically identified by the county health department as viral hot spots.