Nursing homes, schools and hospitals are among the places in Ohio that will soon receive an influx of cash to help bolster their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal CARES Act funding was allocated Monday by the Ohio Controlling Board, to be distributed in the coming weeks.
In the cases of schools, both for primary and higher education, this money will stem cuts made by the state government earlier this year.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was passed by Congress back in March as a multi-trillion dollar economic recovery package.
Local impact of CARES
The Urbana Daily Citizen contacted Champaign County’s 5 public school districts, the Champaign Health District and Mercy Health to inquire about the amount of CARES funding each might receive. CARES is an acronym for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security. The legislation was enacted in March to provide $2 trillion in economic relief.
All 5 public schools are still awaiting official tallies and could not yet provide detailed figures for this story. But a spreadsheeet from the Ohio Department of Education released on Wednesday afternoon showed the following distributions: Graham, $111,620; Mechanicsburg, $45,364; Triad, $56,113; Urbana, $113,666; West Liberty-Salem, $59,014.
Mechanicsburg schools Treasurer Scott Maruniak put the funds into perspective. “I would not label it as an influx of cash … schools and other public entities have had budget reductions earlier this year,” he said. “In addition, we are greatly concerned about other revenue sources and the impact COVID-19 will have upon them. Any and all funds that Mechanicsburg does receive will be used wisely and strategically to ensure the safety of students, staff, and the community. Not fully knowing what the upcoming school year may look like exacerbates potential expenses.”
Champaign Health District Commissioner Gabe Jones sent this response: “We are receiving $92,141. This grant money reimburses Champaign Health District on a monthly basis for specific COVID-19 activities. This allows us to be able to stay afloat due to having additional work in regard to COVID-19, while continuing to operate our regular programs simultaneously. Our grant money is provided for public health response, and it is not included in the county’s grant funds.”
Mercy Health provided this information in response to questions from the Daily Citizen:
Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center and Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital are under the same Tax Identification Number (TIN) and the funds are paid by TIN.
The total payments are below for Mercy Health’s operations in the Springfield market (which includes Urbana Hospital and McAuley Center).
• Total general distribution payment under that TIN is $5.3 million
• The hospital-based skilled nursing facility received $590,000
• Mercy Health Physicians received $447,000
Here is a basic breakdown of the money being distributed in Ohio:
A total of $88 million is going toward primary and secondary education. This money is further being split by type of district:
-$34.5 million for rural and small-town districts
-$29 million for suburban districts
-$24.5 million for urban districts
-$12 million for community schools, county boards of developmental disabilities, joint vocational school districts, independent STEM schools and non-public schools.
Each district will receive funding proportional to the amount of students enrolled there. Extra funds will be added based on “special populations” — students with disabilities, English learners and poor students.
The money can be used for “expenses they are likely to face as school leaders prepare for the start of the 20-21 school year,” the funding line item states. This includes buying personal protective equipment (PPE); cleaning and sanitation; remote learning and other technology upgrades like WiFi services; and transportation costs.
It has been a roller coaster year for districts and their finances. They faced steep cuts from the state in May. CARES Act funding has made up a portion of that gap, but public school districts were ineligible for separate Paycheck Protection Program monies that benefited private districts in the state.
Around $200 million of CARES Act funding is heading to Ohio’s colleges and universities.
About three-fourths of that will go to public schools, with $54 million going to private and nonprofit entities.
This extra funding is meant “to enhance the ability of each campus to comply with various COVID-19-related public health measures,” according to the funding line item. It will allow campuses to pay for building modifications to allow for physical distancing; PPE and cleaning supplies; remote learning needs; and testing.
Health care and care facilities
The CARES Act is providing a lot more funding to hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the state.
-$62 million will go to rural hospitals. The line item states they “provide critical access to hospital services within their communities and rely on elective procedures as a primary source of revenue, and as such, providing some relief funding will go a long way into supporting their long-term viability.”
-$92 million will go to help skilled nursing facilities with staffing, PPE purchases and other needs. There is an additional $25 million available for these facilities to receive bonuses if they “have demonstrated significant effort to maintain strong infection control practices.”
-$78.5 million is allocated for long-term care facilities in Ohio. There is a range of recipients, including those caring for individuals with intellectual disabilities; assisted living; and other Medicaid health services.
-$22.5 million will go to behavioral health providers.
-$38.5 million is going to the Ohio Department of Health to pay for testing at nursing homes; public awareness campaigns; and other coronavirus needs.
-$36.5 million will aid local health departments to hire more employees, particularly in Ohio’s “hot spot” areas.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is also receiving $3 million to pay for COVID-19 mitigation efforts at public parks.
See more at ohiocapitaljournal.com.
Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.