Coronavirus relief update

May 18, 2020
Coronavirus relief update

Funding continues to flow to the Marianas from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act and the other measures Congress has passed to help all of our nation through the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19. We will continue each week to keep you updated:

 

  • PSS $23.2M ready for drawdown
$23,163,734 for the Marianas Public School System is now ready for drawdown, the U.S. Department of Education reported to me on Wednesday. PSS leadership confirmed the CARES Act money was received at our meeting later that day and said they will now be able to pay all their employees. The money also gives PSS more ability to provide online learning. Even sheltered in place, Marianas students have a constitutional right to an education; and we have a responsibility to make sure their schooling continues. I remain dissatisfied with how the Department of Education handled the CARES Act funding. Instead of giving all the money to help teachers and students, the Trump administration decided to carve off money for island governors, including $4.8 million for Governor Torres. As I wrote the Governor on May 5 , I think he should turn over all that money to schools in the Marianas to make up the difference between amounts in the Commonwealth’s FY 20 Appropriations Act and what Congress has now provided in the CARES Act.
 
  • Marianas PPP/EIDL approvals rise
Approvals for Marianas applications to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program continue to rise. Since PPP got back online after Congress passed an additional $310 billion last month to replenish funding, 259 loans to eligible Marianas businesses and non-profits worth $21 million were approved. Since the program’s creation by the CARES Act in March, a grand total of 315 loans to Marianas businesses worth $33.6 million have been approved. To learn more, visit the SBA PPP website and download an application here 109 EIDL advance grants to Marianas applicants worth $534,000 have been approved from the program’s inception in March through May 7. SBA is currently only accepting new EIDL applications from farmers and other agricultural businesses EIDL applications can be downloaded here and a step-by-step guide on the application process can be viewed here 
 
  • Aim relief at Medicaid providers
The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation has been awarded $5,241,888 from monies in the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act for health care provider relief. The funds are intended to offset increased expenses and lost revenues health providers are facing due to the coronavirus pandemic and more money is still available. In the Marianas and elsewhere in the U.S., however, some providers are disadvantaged because in disbursing the money the Department of Health and Human Services is not accounting for the high number of Medicaid patients they serve. So, I joined Reps. Butterfield (D-NC) and Olson (R-TX) on a bipartisan letter with 89 of my colleagues to urge HHS Secretary Azar  to award a significant amount of remaining funds to providers with a large numbers of Medicaid and other low-income patients and maintain the economic viability of these key elements of the healthcare safety net.
 
  • $4M to CHCC for testing, tracking
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded  $3,956,082 to CHCC to enhance the local public health testing infrastructure. Congress made these funds available through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act , the interim response bill that followed the CARES Act. The award is expected to be disbursed no later than May 23 and can be used to further develop testing capacity, conduct surveillance, and trace contacts. So far, the CDC has awarded $5,476,231 to CHCC for testing and surveillance for the coronavirus pandemic.