WASHINGTON – America’s counties are on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. County leaders from 48 statewide associations of counties, organized by the National Association of Counties (NACo), sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for bipartisan solutions and direct and flexible federal funding for counties of all sizes to continue to address this unprecedented pandemic.
“Serving Americans every day at the local level is a non-partisan undertaking, and what America’s local governments need right now is a bipartisan solution to address the enormous economic and public health challenge that COVID-19 has presented,” wrote the county leaders.
In their letter to Senate leadership, county leaders highlight encouraging movement in Congress over the past few months, including the passage of the CARES Act which provided much-needed aid to large counties, the House passage of the HEROES’ Act, which would allocate $187.5 billion in direct, flexible relief to counties of all sizes, and the introduction of the bipartisan SMART Act, which would provide $80 billion in flexible funding to counties. The local government leaders call for bipartisan support and cooperation for a new round of direct, flexible aid for increased county expenditures and lost revenue.
NACo found that America’s counties face at least a $144 billion fiscal impact from the COVID-19 pandemic through FY2021, without considering potential declines in property tax revenues and cuts in state aid for mandated services. New Bureau of Labor Statistics data unfortunately support NACo’s findings, showing a loss of more than 800,000 jobs in the local government sector – 332,000 of which were non-education related jobs ranging from law enforcement officers to healthcare practitioners, social workers, maintenance crews, construction workers, administrative support and more.
Read the full letter here.
Led by 40,000 elected county officials and a workforce of 3.6 million public servants, America’s 3,069 counties support over 1,900 local public health departments, nearly 1,000 public 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.
NACO’s We Are Counties campaign features pictures and videos of county workers across the country. View NACo’s newest video thanking the heroes serving on the front lines of this pandemic here. Look for #WeAreCounties on social media, and learn more about the campaign and view other NACo resources at www.WeAreCounties.org.Standard