Bexar County commissioners on Sept. 5 voted to direct $31 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to support a variety of public physical and mental health care initiatives.

The background

Dr. Andrea Guerrero-Guajardo, Bexar County public health director, said the federal COVID-19 relief money will help address child and family development as well as broaden access to healthier eating options, exercise and wellness education, and behavioral and emotional welfare programs.

Guerrero-Guajardo said the ARPA funds will especially bolster such health care objectives in parts of south and southwest Bexar County, where she said data shows lower rates of health insurance and education, and higher rates of death and child abuse.

Dig deeper

According to data provided by Guerrero-Guajardo, 63% of Precinct 1 households in the county’s southern portion are experiencing difficulty getting by financially, and 27% of Precinct 1 residents have not completed high school. Guerrero-Guajardo added that Precinct 1 had a death rate of 1,257 per 100,000 households in 2021 compared with 953 the same year across the county’s other three precincts.

County officials said ongoing efforts to develop a new county public health headquarters and county hospital in South San Antonio are meant to improve health care and access equity in the county’s southern portion.