WASHINGTON – The National Association of Counties (NACo) today responded to the Republican proposal for the next coronavirus relief package, which does not include critical aid to states or localities.
NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase said:
We are encouraged that there is a desire for bipartisan negotiations on COVID-19 relief, but this plan unfortunately misses the mark by omitting much-needed investments in the frontline heroes of the county workforce.
“America’s counties are fulfilling a vital role in mitigating and ending COVID-19. We are leading comprehensive community responses to this global pandemic, including through our public health officials, health care providers, public safety personnel and other essential frontline heroes.
“Our 40,000 county elected officials and more than 3 million county employees are leveraging every tool at our disposal to curtail the virus, keep our small businesses and non-profits alive, and serve our most vulnerable residents – our seniors, children, unemployed, sick and county frontline workers.
“The unimaginable impacts of COVID-19 have forced us to dig deep into our reserves, reallocate resources and make difficult decisions to reduce or eliminate non-essential services and staff.
“Counties are responsible, prudent stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we remain very concerned about the mounting federal debt. However, the immense scale of the pandemic and growing community needs far outstrip our local resources.
“We are not asking for an unlimited federal handout. We are urging a stronger federal-state-local response that ensures appropriate federal investments with a strategic focus on COVID-19 impacts and future community resiliency.
“Investing in counties means investing in people and places in every corner of the nation. It means investing in the frontline heroes who will ultimately help win the battle against COVID-19.
“We call on the administration and lawmakers in both political parties to quickly pass a bipartisan coronavirus relief package that honors our heroes by investing in direct state and local aid.”
NACo sent a letter last week to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, calling on the leaders to immediately pass local government support featured in the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan, a proposal that includes $350 billion in critical aid to state, local and territorial governments.
America’s 3,069 county governments support over 1,900 local public health departments, nearly 1,000 hospitals and critical access clinics, more than 800 long-term care facilities and 750 behavioral health centers.
Additionally, county governments are responsible for emergency operations centers and 911 services, court and jail management, public safety and emergency response, protective services for children, seniors and veterans, and the “last of the first responders” with coroners and medical examiners, among many other essential public services.
NACo’s coronavirus online hub includes county level examples of response efforts, interactive maps and analyses of federal actions. View this resource-rich webpage at www.naco.org/coronavirus.