Money to help thousands of the most vulnerable people in Collier County has run out. Commissioners have suspended a federal government grant for agricultural migrants due to COVID-19.

Now Healthcare Network in Immokalee won’t get the remaining $1.2 million they were hoping for.

There is also no plan to compensate for the lost funding.

The six-member outreach team aimed to provide migrant farm workers with critical medical education about diabetes, heart disease, the COVID-19 vaccine, and the flu. Here’s how Healthcare Network spent nearly $167,000 of its COVID-19 Extra Mile Migrant Worker Farmworker grant.

With five votes “for” this money disappeared. On Valentine’s Day, Collier County commissioners voted unanimously to return the money to the Centers for Disease Control. The county also said it would not accept the remainder of a $1.2 million grant originally awarded to Collier County over four years.

Commissioner Bill McDaniels pushed for the money to be waived. He said there are certain conditions. “Because no matter what, if you took $1, you’re obligated to follow a mandate or a directive from one of those agencies.”

Agencies like the CDC. McDaniel would not say what mandate he is protecting the people in Immokalee from. He said he is committed to getting Healthcare Network funded in other ways.

“The bottom line is, even though they’re limited, there are other ways to get that kind of support to the health network to make sure the community has the right assets,” McDaniel said.

Commissioner Rick Locastro made a similar promise, but with his own twist. “We have to make sure we turn around quickly and figure out, you know, where the shortfalls are and how they’re going to be funded. And a lot of that is in the health care network, because they’re the ones who were providing those services.”

WINK News also reached out to commissioners Chris Hall, Bert Saunders and Dan Kowal for comment. They all refused.

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