COLUMBUS— House Democratic lawmakers today announced the state Controlling Board approved more than $248 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to aid the state’s ongoing pandemic response efforts, including funds to bolster testing capacity, purchase needed personal protective equipment for frontline workers, expand hospital capacity, and provide resources for those most impacted by the coronavirus.
Democrats, however, urged continued action at the state and federal level to address the crisis, saying this is just the beginning of long-term response and recovery efforts.
“This funding delivers critical resources to support our response efforts and provides benefits to those hit hardest by this pandemic,” said Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “However, the dire situation facing those on the front lines, as well as our state’s small businesses and families demands a greater response. We must continue working together at both the state, federal and local levels to support ongoing efforts and position our state to emerge from this crisis stronger than before.”
The approved federal funding package includes:
- $8.8 million to construct temporary medical facilities to supplement hospital capacity;
- $76.1 million for ventilators and face masks;
- $39 million to expand statewide testing capacity;
- $50 million to purchase additional personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers;
- $20 million in each of the next two years to expand the state’s SNAP food assistance program;
- $25 million to the Summer Food Service Program to provide meals for children and teens in low-income areas;
- $9.5 million over the next two years to support emergency food distribution at foodbanks and pantries;
In addition to the federal funds, some $500,000 in state funds were released to improve services for state and county Jobs and Family Services offices, along with another $95,000 for medical treatment and services for inmates at various corrections facilities.
“This funding expands testing and directs resources to healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines while investing in benefits to Ohioans hit hardest by this crisis,” said Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), who sits on the state Controlling Board. “This is a good first step, but we must do more at both the state and federal level to ensure those affected have the tools they need in this time of crisis and beyond.”
In recent weeks, House Democrats have called on the Speaker and Senate President several times to reconvene the General Assembly to take up further emergency measures to address issues facing workers, families and businesses amid the global pandemic.