WASHINGTON – With the U.S. Congress and administration poised to agree on a $1 trillion-plus coronavirus relief package tonight, the National Association of Counties (NACo) called on federal policymakers to ensure America’s 3,069 county governments are eligible for the State Stabilization Fund and other essential supplemental federal aid resources.
“Counties are on the front lines of responding to the coronavirus pandemic,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “We are investing huge sums in immediate public health and public safety needs, and at the same time, we will be experiencing massive declines in revenue.”
America’s counties employ about one percent of the U.S. population, or 3.6 million people. Counties support over 1,900 public health departments – the ground troops in the CDC’s fight against the outbreak – and nearly 1,000 hospitals. Counties also have significant responsibilities for public safety, human services and other critical functions.
Whether or not individual local jurisdictions decide or need to access these federal resources, NACo underscored the importance of making counties eligible.
The following are preliminary estimates of the fiscal impact of this pandemic on county governments:
- Los Angeles County, Calif., the nation’s most populous county, estimated costs of $290 million over the course of six months. It has also estimated that 50 of the 88 cities within the county will face additional total response costs of roughly $145 million.
- Clark County, Nevada, home to 2.2 million residents, has early estimates of $1.08 billion. This number includes unbudgeted impacts to the county hospital, emergency services, human services, aviation (McCarran International Airport), and lost revenue for the duration of FY20 and for FY21. This number also includes two pay periods (30 days) of additional staff costs.
- Harris County, Texas has already incurred nearly $43 million of expenditures and expects to continue to invest nearly $11 million each month. The county is investing additional funds in its county hospital district, public health services, sheriff’s department, public works department, among other items. These estimates do not include lost revenue and productivity. Nor do these estimates include additional overtime for peace officers, which could amount to nearly $2 million per week.
- Marathon County, Wis., a medium-sized county with a population of roughly 135,000, estimated direct cost increases of nearly $2 million, including more than $1.4 million in wages and benefits and almost $600,000 in contractual services related to the county’s response.
- Contra Costa County, Calif. has estimated the crisis will have cost its health department alone $46 million through the month of May: $6 million for equipment, $6 million for testing, $4 million for services and supplies, $5 million for IT infrastructure, $5 million in increased staffing costs and $20 million in service interruption.
- San Diego County, Calif. is incurring costs of around $7 million each month for its emergency response, which includes temporary housing assistance, sanitation and related costs. A significant portion of these costs are going toward temporary housing and hotels to assist individuals who need to be quarantined or isolated. The county predicted these costs could total over $86 million by the end of the fiscal year. These figures do not reflect anticipated lost revenues due to the economic shock of the pandemic.
- Hamilton County, Ohio has estimated that the pandemic has cost $1 million so far in expenditures. More importantly, the crisis is causing the county to lose approximately $12 million each month in revenue, which is over 10 percent of the county’s total monthly revenue.
- Humboldt County, Nevada, home to 17,079 residents, is projecting $468,000/month in new costs that include support to their county hospital, county emergency response, increased inmate medical, emergency day care for essential employees, additional supplies, IT costs for telework, and staff costs. The estimate also includes lost revenue of $118,000.
“In counties across the nation, already strained budgets are facing extreme fiscal pressure as we work daily to stop the spread of COVID-19,” added Chase. “Now more than ever, we need a strong partnership with the federal government to address this crisis.”
Over 500 counties have declared a state of emergency to activate additional funding, streamline procurement rules and expand the resources and flexibility necessary to respond quickly to this crisis.
NACo has launched a coronavirus information hub that includes county level examples of response efforts and a map tracking county and state emergency declarations. View this resource-rich webpage at www.naco.org/coronavirus.