By Nyamekye Daniel
(The Center Square) – North Carolina released $150 million in coronavirus relief aid to 97 counties this week, according to Gov. Roy Cooper.
It is the second half of federal assistance allocated to smaller local governments provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. The funds must be used to cover expenses related to government’s response to the pandemic.
“During this pandemic, people across North Carolina rely on their local governments for essential health and safety help close to home,” Cooper said in a statement. “ Local governments need stability and funding to cover the costs of COVID-19 response, and we are working quickly to get these resources where they are needed.”
The General Assembly set aside a total of $300 million to small local governments from the state’s share of direct aid from the relief bill. Counties must offer a minimum of 25% to their municipalities.
The CARES Act, authorized by Congress in late March, earmarked more than $4 billion for North Carolina.
Local governments with more than 500,000 residents received 45% of the funds directly from the U.S. Treasury.
Guilford County received about $94 million and has spent $21 million as of June 30, according to an interim report sent to the federal government. Mecklenburg County received $39 million and spent $1.8 million, and Wake County received $193 million and spent $14 million.
The other 97 other counties this week received a base amount of $250,000, with more distributed by population.
Durham County, which has a population of about 321,400 residents, topped the list with $11.7 million. Tyrrell County received the least – $393,000 – for its 4,000 residents.
The League of Municipalities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Charlotte, the state’s most populous city, received $155 million in federal funding directly from the U.S. Treasurer. Officials there have reported incurring about $19 million in COVID-19-related expenses.
According to the Pandemic Recovery Office, local governments can use the funds for testing, personal protective equipment, cleaning services, medical and cleaning supplies, payroll expenses, to support public hospitals, clinics, public health and public safety workers and to assist the homeless population.
“The North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office appreciates everything local government leaders are doing to submit county plans and utilize these funds to respond to the COVID-19 crisis with testing, personal protection equipment, medical supplies and much more,” said Stephanie McGarrah, pandemic office director.