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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Hamilton County Allocates CARES Act Funding

Bill Rinehart

The Hamilton County commissioners voted Tuesday on a plan to spend federal money from the Congressional CARES Act.

It's money federal lawmakers approved to help communities respond to the coronavirus crisis.

The county received $142.6 million in federal funding, and the approved plan allocates $135.5 million.  That leaves $7.1 million that could be allocated later.

The county divided the funding into four components:

$36.50 Million For Public Health Response

  • PPE procurement ($7,000,000)
  • PPE distribution ($2,000,000)
  • Alternative care facility ($500,000)
  • Emergency responder sheltering ($500,000)
  • Quarantine services ($500,000)
  • Testing services ($19,000,000)
  • Pandemic childcare support ($2,000,000)
  • Contact tracing ($2,000,000)
  • Public health infrastructure ($3,000,000)

$8.25 Million for Assistance to Vulnerable Populations

  • Homeless sheltering ($3,000,000)
  • Veterans relief ($250,000)
  • Developmental Disabilities Services shelter/supply needs ($500,000)
  • Senior needs ($2,000,000)
  • Domestic violence response/PPE ($500,000)
  • Mental health and recovery services ($2,000,000)

$49.5 Million for Community/Economic Assistance

  • Local community COVID response ($30,000,000)
  • Rental assistance ($5,000,000)
  • Small business assistance ($7,500,000)
  • Convention/tourism planning ($2,000,000)
  • Non-profit assistance ($5,000,000)

$41.25 Million for County Operational Response

  • Departmental reimbursement/direct expenses due to emergency ($3,050,000)
  • Communication needs ($750,000)
  • Overtime ($1,000,000)
  • Leave costs ($1,000,000)
  • Unemployment costs ($250,000)
  • Redeployments ($200,000)
  • Public safety personnel ($35,000,000)

The county currently is not able to use any of the federal money to help stabilize the county's general fund budget, which has taken a major financial hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The county did set aside $30 million to help local jurisdictions with pandemic response expenses.  That would be available to all cities, villages and townships in the county.

Last week, Cincinnati City Manager Patrick Duhaney had sent a letter to County Administrator Jeff Aluotto requesting $15 million for the city from the county's CARES Act funding.

The county commissioners nor the administrator addressed that request Tuesday. 

But if the city got the full amount it requested, it would take half of the money the county had set aside to assist local communities.

County Commission President Denise Driehaus had said last week the county would be assisting the city.  But she did not indicate an amount, and she said the county would likely wait until the state of Ohio allocated CARES Act money that it has received. 

Cincinnati officials had first thought they would get about $45 million of funding from the state.  But now the city believes it will be $15 million.  That's why Duhaney was seeking assistance from the county.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.