Feds provide $161 million for DuPage County's COVID-19 response

 
 
Updated 5/13/2020 5:36 PM

DuPage County has received more than $161 million in federal funding to help pay for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act can be used for necessary -- or unanticipated -- expenses incurred due to the public health emergency. Eligible expenditures must be made between March 1 and Dec. 30.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

County board Chairman Dan Cronin said officials will work to ensure the money can cover the county's costs and the costs of different organizations that are helping residents.

"We don't know yet what the final financial impact of this pandemic is going to be on DuPage," Cronin said. "But I think this is a significant sum of money, and it will be helpful."

This week, the county board agreed to use $7 million of the CARES Act money to start a program that will provide forgivable loans of up to $15,000 to small businesses devastated by the crisis.

Meanwhile, DuPage government is the lead agency coordinating the countywide response to COVID-19 through its health department, sheriff's office and the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

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The health department, for example, has cross-trained 50 staff members to help with contact tracing, officials said.

"Every day they have a new mission that is placed upon them," said Sheryl Markay, the county's chief policy and program officer. "So that is an ongoing and an unpredictable cost at this point."

Markay said the office of emergency management has done an excellent job obtaining personal protective equipment for first responders and nursing homes in the county.

Municipalities have asked for reimbursement of their COVID-19-related expenses. The DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference is gathering details about those costs, officials said.

It's possible some of the federal money could be used for small capital projects. For example, the county might pursue a project to improve air quality at the jail, courthouse, coroner's office and the DuPage Care Center, which is a nursing facility in Wheaton.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Money that isn't spent before Dec. 30 must be returned to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Officials stress the funding can't be used to replace revenue lost during the pandemic, even though DuPage is expected to see a substantial sales tax shortfall in the coming months.

Congress is working on another stimulus package that may include money that counties and municipalities could use to replace lost revenue.

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