DuPage County developing funding plan to battle COVID-19
DuPage County officials have identified more than $41 million in proposed initiatives to battle COVID-19, including increased testing and construction of a socially distanced courtroom at the courthouse in Wheaton.
The county's response to the pandemic is being funded by roughly $161 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. DuPage can use the federal money to pay for necessary or unanticipated expenses incurred due to the public health emergency. Eligible expenditures must be made between March 1 and Dec. 30.
So far, DuPage has spent -- or plans to spend -- roughly $29.1 million of the CARES Act money, including $20.5 million for capital projects related to COVID-19. Now county board members are working to decide how to use the remaining $131.9 million.
During a lengthy discussion this week, officials with several county departments proposed initiatives to the board. If all the ideas are approved, the total cost would be $41.4 million.
The biggest funding request comes from the DuPage County Health Department, which is seeking a total of roughly $16.5 million.
Karen Ayala, health department executive director, said there are multiple categories of funding "that we anticipate needing to support our public health response from now until the end of the calender year."
First, the department wants $7.3 million to pay for expenses related to its ongoing efforts, including buying personal protective equipment, doing medical consulting, and retrofitting facilities. The department also wants $2.5 million for public education and messaging.
In addition, the department wants $3.4 million for COVID-19 testing, including costs associated with a new testing site at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton. There also are plans to offer mobile testing.
The health department also is seeking $955,262 to expand contact tracing, $351,000 to implement telehealth, $500,000 for IT upgrades, $350,000 for mass vaccination efforts, and $1.1 million for isolation housing.
Another major funding request comes from the 18th Judicial Circuit Court, which wants $2.75 million to retrofit courtrooms at the courthouse to allow for remote viewing and reporting. The court also wants $3.5 million to create a socially distanced courtroom, two socially distanced jury deliberation rooms, and a grand jury room that would allow for social distancing.
The sheriff's office is requesting roughly $1.3 million to "strengthen" the county jail for the current and future battle against COVID-19. The office wants to purchase items including antimicrobial mattresses, special tables, specialized sanitizing equipment and temperature screening equipment.
Looking ahead to the November election, the county clerk's office is requesting $3.5 million. The money would pay for higher-than-expected costs for labor, cleaning, equipment, and printing and postage.
Other funding requests include $190,500 for the clerk of the circuit court and $2.6 million for the IT needs of several departments. In addition, officials are planning to set aside $11 million to reimburse county departments for future COVID-19 related expenses.