By Nyamekye Daniel
(The Center Square) – Local governments, schools, hospitals and North Carolina state agencies will receive a second round of coronavirus relief.
Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a bill that allocates $150 million to support local governments and includes $100 million for state agencies from federal funds provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, according to N.C. Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
The measure, House Bill 1023, unanimously cleared both chambers of the General Assembly last week. Cooper signed it into law July 1.
Schools will receive $7 million for personal protective equipment and $5 million for grants to be awarded for well-performing students. N.C. Rep. Ashton Wheeler Clemmons, D-Guilford, told House members during the final floor vote last week, however, it is going to cost $38 million a month to secure personal protective equipment to operate schools safely.
Cooper expressed concern Wednesday about having enough funding for the costs of reopening schools amid the outbreak.
“This bill includes funding for personal protective equipment for our schools, but we need to work together [to] do more,” he said.
Lambeth said last week more aid would go to schools in the third round of funding.
The CARES Act, authorized by Congress in late March, earmarked more than $4 billion for North Carolina to cover COVID-19 expenses.
Local governments with more than 500,000 residents received 45% of the funds directly from the U.S. Treasury. Smaller counties will receive an even share of the $150 million and are required to disperse 25% to its municipalities.
A chunk of the money supports economic growth, including $15 million for job retention grants for businesses and nonprofits that were excluded from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The package also sets aside funding for tourism, marketing and technology advances for the state.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will get an additional $6 million for rehabilitation centers, mental health facilities, group homes and to provide $100 supplemental payments for each child living in foster care.
The North Carolina Association of Free & Charitable Clinics and the North Carolina Community Health Center Association will receive an additional $5 million. State hospitals will share $9.5 million in federal grants, $2.5 million of which is for hospitals in rural areas.
The General Assembly passed an extensive coronavirus package in May that allocated nearly $1.6 billion of the CARES Act aid.
Lambeth predicts Congress will send more assistance to the states.