Olmsted County outlines plans for allocating CARES Act funds

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At the August 4, 2020 Olmsted County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board approved a plan for investing $19.1 million in funds as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

The county’s intention is to focus on expenses and support in four key areas:

COVID-19 related needs for the vulnerable – ($4.7 million) 

Funds to cover emergency isolation and quarantine shelter as well as access to basic needs – food, transportation, shelter, mental health care – for those in crisis because of COVID-19. 

Examples include:
  • Emergency financial assistance to individuals or families directly impacted by loss of income (eviction prevention, emergency shelter, rent, mortgage, utility, childcare, etc.).
  • Food delivery to vulnerable populations.
  • Mental health services for uninsured and underinsured.
  • Testing at-risk groups. 
  • Targeted COVID-19 education and outreach to at-risk populations. 

Economic support to organizations affected by COVID-19 - ($5 million)

Grant program to organizations in Olmsted County severely impacted by the pandemic, distributed as follows: 

  • $4 million grant program for small businesses administered by Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. (RAEDI). 
  • $1 million grant program for non-profits administered by the Rochester Area Foundation.

Mental health in K-12 schools - ($500,000)
If there are unfunded mental health needs in K-12 schools, grants to community agencies will be provided to help improve children’s mental health by offering increased services in all school districts partially or wholly based in Olmsted County. If there are no unfunded needs, the board may choose to reallocate these funds as appropriate.  

  • Byron Public Schools
  • Chatfield Public Schools
  • Dover-Eyota Public Schools
  • Pine Island Public Schools
  • Plainview-Elgin-Millville Community Schools
  • Rochester Public Schools
  • St. Charles Public Schools
  • Stewartville Public Schools 

Mental health needs are on the rise in this population due to isolation and the impact of distance learning. 

County operations costs required to manage COVID-19 - ($8.9 million)
Cost recovery for personnel, facilities and supplies, and technology expenses incurred in leading the public health response to COVID-19. 

Examples include: 
  • COVID-19 testing facility at Graham Park. 
  • Temporary judicial space during pandemic to ensure appropriate physical distancing. 
  • Modifications to the Rochester Community Warming Center to serve the homeless during COVID-19 in the upcoming winter season.
  • Portable technology and support to process increasing public assistance workload. 

Note: Allocations may change slightly as further federal CARES Act guidance is released this fall. 

“COVID-19 has been devastating for individuals and families in Olmsted County in a number of ways. This CARES Act funding allows Olmsted County to direct funds to those in our community who are struggling,” said Olmsted County Administrator Heidi Welch. “Our mission is to provide the foundation of a vibrant community and to do that in the COVID world, Olmsted County has pivoted operations and adapted to new ways of doing business. This funding allows us to continue providing service with care to the community to help improve quality of life during these unprecedented times.”