More Resources Needed as Crisis Unfolds
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House today passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill passed the U.S. Senate Wednesday and now heads to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
“The CARES Act is another important step in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic,” said National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase. “This bipartisan legislation contains key provisions that will help bolster counties’ public health efforts and boost economic vitality.”
America’s counties are on the front lines of the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Counties operate over 1,900 public health departments, nearly 1,000 hospitals and more than 800 long-term care facilities.
“Counties are working with Congress and the Administration to support counties’ mitigation of this public health crisis and its far-reaching economic, health and safety impacts,” said Chase.
Highlights important to counties in the CARES Act include:
- A new $150-billion fund for state, county and municipal governments to address the tremendous costs related to the coronavirus pandemic response with populations of over 500,000 people to address necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. NACo is asking Congress and the U.S. Treasury Department for clarification on details of this fund—including eligibility for counties with populations under 500,000
- New authority for the U.S. Treasury to authorize $500 billion in loans and municipal bond purchases to aid state and local governments. Stabilizing the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market can provide additional liquidity from the Federal Reserve and others for state and localities to finance operations during the COVID-19 emergency
- Extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
- $100 billion for local hospitals to address medical surge capacity and offset the cost of increased health care expenses and revenue loss revenue
- Protects payments to hospitals serving the uninsured and underinsured
- $330 billion through emergency supplemental appropriations to support Strategic National Stockpile supplies of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies; domestic supply chains; federal, state and local public health agencies; FEMA’s disaster relief fund; local school systems; veterans programs; transit; airports; affordable housing programs; economic development; elections; nutrition; and other programs important to counties.
“Counties are laser-focused on saving lives now,” said Chase. “Congressional action to date should be a down payment on what we hope will be greater investments and better coordination among federal, state and local levels of government. 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.”
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.
Read NACo’s legislative analysis of the CARES Act here.
Read NACo’s legislative brief on COVID-19 and counties here.
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.