Dane County officials have called on the federal government to increase CARES funding for local COVID-19 response efforts due to a need for further testing and economic assistance.
The request was presented during a July 22 press conference at Alliant Energy Center.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic carries on, there will be a continued need for support from the federal government to help our community with testing, eviction prevention, emergency food assistance, and small business funding,” County Executive Joe Parisi said. “This pandemic is far from over, and we need all systems of support working together to address our community’s needs.”
Parisi noted that funding was needed to continue COVID-19 testing at the Alliant Energy Center, where more than 70,000 people had been tested. Without it, that testing could end on Aug. 7.
He said continued testing would be vital to limiting the spread of coronavirus.
Executive Director of the Tenant Resource Center Robin Sereno called on additional funding for her own organization, which authorized more than $4.6 million in rental assistance this summer.
“We take this work seriously and to heart,” Sereno said. “To date, we have been able to support over 7,000 community members with rental assistance, thereby stabilizing their housing as a result of the CARES program partnership. We are committed to continuing this important work.”
That assistance was made possible by a $10 million emergency package launched in mid-June. Since then, the center has received nearly $10 million in requests.
In absence of further funds, the eviction prevention program will need to stop accepting requests.
Executive Director of Dane Buy Local Colin Murray called on the federal government to provide additional support to local businesses, to keep them open and their workers employed.
“CARES funding, provided to local businesses through a Dane County grant program, was essential for small business survival during the first few months of the pandemic,” Murray said. “But as the pandemic drags on through the summer, fall and winter, businesses are once again in need of cash support.”
In May, the county announced that $10.8 million would be used to fund the grant program. Approximately $8.4 million of that has been awarded, assisting nearly 3000 businesses.
Several reported they would be out of business were it not for that funding.
“Now’s the time for the federal government to act by providing additional financial support at the local level,” Murray said. “If these businesses are helped to remain open and keep people employed, they’ll drive the return to local and national economic vitality.”
The county has called on additional funding for Second Harvest’s COVID-19 emergency food assistance program as well.
The organization has projected a 61 percent increase in local food insecurity by end of August.