Riverside County receives $2.3 million for COVID-19 containment efforts

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The Riverside County Board of Supervisors directed the Emergency Management Department to accept a $1.8 million federal grant to cover some costs tied to coronavirus mitigation and a $504,000 agreement to support transient housing programs

In a 5-0 vote, April 7, the supervisors approved the $1.8 million allocation which will be disbursed by the California Department of Public Health. The allocation is among the grant awards made available under the Coronavirus Preparedness Response Supplemental Appropriations Act signed into law by President Donald Trump, March 6.

This one-time funding is intended to reimburse the county for the COVID-19 crisis response for the period March 5, 2020, through March 15, 2021, according to the Executive Office.

In the same meeting, the supervisors signed off on an agreement with the California Business, Consumer Service Housing Agency to ensure Riverside County receives a $504,000 allocation to support transient housing programs during the coronavirus emergency. The distribution will be part of a continuum of care initiative approved under the 2019-2020 state budget, but the funding is now considered a critical needs earmark because of COVID-19, according to county officials.

“Residents and businesses will benefit as the funds are being used to provide emergency shelter for individuals and families who are vulnerable during the pandemic period,” according to the Executive Office statement posted on the April 7 agenda.

In addition to shelter for individuals and families, the money will support “outreach and case management through the (county) Emergency Operations Center’s Mass Shelter Unit.”

Funds can also be expended to procure hand-washing stations and medical supplies for established homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced recently that the state would be expanding efforts to place chronically and temporarily homeless individuals in lodges, relying on reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will cover about three-quarters of the costs.

The state grant must be used in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Under the agreement with BCSHA, the county can enter into agreements with municipalities and other entities to spend the funds as directed.

More than 1,000 county residents have been infected with the virus so far, resulting in many – 28 as of Wednesday, April 8 – deaths. There have been 60 documented patient recoveries, according to the Riverside University Health System.

The $1.8 million mitigation grant will cover costs stemming from resource obligations, supply acquisitions, including surgical gloves and masks, equipment acquisitions, including ventilators and the procurement of food and basic office implements, according to the EMD.

The funds will be paid based on submissions from the county to the state showing specific measures that have been put into effect, officials said.

A spending plan was to be forwarded to the state by Thursday, April 9, detailing the county’s current and future expenditures for “early crisis response,” surge management “biosurveillance” and other actions. Officials said the process is underway.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.