CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — The undocumented community and supporters are calling on Contra Costa County officials to expand a program that provided vital healthcare to thousands amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2015, the county passed the Contra Costa CARES program, a healthcare program for uninsured adults living in Contra Costa County. The program has been able to provide much-needed healthcare to more than 8,000 undocumented individuals. Since the inception of the program, primary care services have been provided to thousands, with more than 33,000 visits to date.

“Because of CARES, I was able to remove the tumors in my breast before they became life-threatening,” said CARES recipient, Ana Gonzalez. “I am in the fight for CARES because when we are healthy we can work and give to our community – today for me, tomorrow for you.” 

According to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), approximately 65% of CARES enrollees had one or more primary care visits. More than half of the patients in the program are being treated for a chronic disease diagnosis. The organization says the program continues to maintain a high engagement with 25% of CARES enrollees frequent utilizers of the primary care services.

On Monday, CARES recipients held a press conference urging County Supervisors to expand the program ahead of Tuesday’s board budget meeting. According to Contra Costa Health Services, immigrants contribute roughly $24.7 Billion to Contra Costa County’s GDP every year.

“The program, which currently serves only 4,200 people, could be serving thousands of more families,” ACCE said in a press release.