WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Act. The U.S. House passed the bill over the weekend and it will now head to President Trump’s desk for his signature. National Association of Counties (NACo) Executive Director Matthew Chase issued the following statement:
“America’s counties are on the front lines of the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Counties operating over 1,900 public health departments – the ground troops in the CDC’s fight against the outbreak – and nearly 1,000 hospitals to treat residents with coronavirus and other illnesses. Now more than ever, we need a strong federal, state and local intergovernmental partnership to address this crisis.
“The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is a good first step, containing key provisions that will help mitigate the spread of the outbreak and assist counties in serving our residents, including access to free coronavirus testing under Medicaid and CHIP, a temporary increase in the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, increased investments in the Senior Nutrition Program, a suspension of work and training requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, flexibility in unemployment benefits and paid sick leave.
“The passage of this legislation provides federal investments and flexibility at the local level to help protect our residents from the spread of coronavirus and lessen the impact of this pandemic on our local communities.
“We’re grateful that Congress passed this important legislation – a down payment on what we hope are sustained investments – and encourage President Trump to quickly sign it into law. We are committed to being strong partners in the implementation of this critical legislation.
“Counties will require much more federal assistance to fulfill our obligations to the health and well-being of our residents and assist with recovery efforts, including retrofitting emergency facilities with new equipment and training staff to deal with this pandemic. Counties also need clear guidance on FEMA’s public assistance fund for county preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery activities and clarification of this new congressional supplemental bill for paid leave requirements.
“As lawmakers shift focus to longer-term economic measures, there remain immediate, serious public health needs that require greater state and federal investments and coordination.
NACo has launched a coronavirus toolkit 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.Standard