Public-Private Sector Partnerships – Successfully Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic
Over the last few weeks, state leaders have been forced to mandate drastic actions in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Normally, state emergencies are declared when natural disasters strike – hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and floods. This time, however, the United States called on states to protect citizens and to help stop a raging pandemic.
Immediate, critical needs are great, and the federal government is moving but, while waiting on funding, many state leaders have dipped into rainy day emergency funds. The stakes are high and contracting opportunities are rampant. Throughout the country, there are critical needs of all types.
Alabama Seeks Funding For Rural Broadband
Alabama was already seeking funding for rural broadband and had received $62.3 million late in 2019. However, COVID-19 created greater needs especially related to providing education to all students because they cannot gather in classrooms. Broadband projects will be announced soon.
California Distance Learning
Two of California’s public school districts, San Diego and Los Angeles, have asked for state support for distance learning for K-12 students. The funding request is for $500 per student. The total funding request is for about $3 billion for approximately 6 million students.
Schools throughout the country are facing similar dilemmas. There were funding shortfalls for critical projects before the global pandemic, but now the projects are critical. Almost every state will be forced to deliver education online to all students for at least the rest of this school year. Many will need assistance from private sector contractors.
Many states also have critical needs for their homeless population. These citizens have no way to practice proper hygiene or self-isolate. Gov. Gavin Newsom in California has awarded $150 million to local jurisdictions across the state. The cities of Oakland and San Francisco each received $3.2 million, San Jose was awarded $3.9 million, Santa Clara County received $1.7 million, and Alameda County accepted $1.4 million. Other cities and counties were awarded funding based on their jurisdiction’s homeless population count. The funding will be used for creating temporary housing for self-isolation, supporting current homeless shelters, and providing hand washing stations and COVID-19 testing. Another $50 million is available to purchase travel trailers and lease hotels, motels, and other facilities for homeless individuals.
Washington Funds COVID 19 Response
Gov. Jay Inslee has signed five laws to fund the state’s continued response to COVID-19. One of the bills, House Bill 2965, provides $200 million for increased hospital capacity, expanded testing, better care for the most vulnerable, and resources to local and tribal health organizations. Of that amount, $175 million will be allocated for state agencies and local governments.
Pennsylvania Forms COVID Small Business Fund
The city of Philadelphia’s COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund provides a $9 million-plus grant and loan program for business support. Micro-enterprise and small business zero-interest loans will be available. Another award from the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplements Appropriations Act, 2020, will provide $8.3 billion in emergency funding and other funding will be available for telehealth, screening, testing and medical supplies. Many private sector firms are assisting health facilities in dozens of ways.
Nebraska Emergency Funding for DHHS
The Nebraska Legislature reconvened recently to address emergency funding issues. Lawmakers provided $83.6 million in aid to the Department of Health and Human Services and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Texas Gets Funding for Disaster Declaration
On March 25, Texas got a disaster declaration from Washington, D.C., and funding will be available. The state has received $36.9 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the state’s initial allotment of funding from the first emergency coronavirus bill. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will have $19.5 million to distribute to 43 local health departments. This includes $1.75 million for Dallas County, Tarrant County, and the San Antonio Metro Health District where operations were impacted. The remaining funds will be used by DSHS to support operations statewide.
On March 24, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response announced that more than 1,300 health centers would be awarded a portion of $100 million. Coming from the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplements Appropriations Act, HHS dispensed the funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration to Health Center Program members. California received the most funding at $13.8 million, followed by Texas at $5.8 million, New York at $5.2 million, and Florida at $4.5 million.
Contractors with solutions and services to offer should remember that public officials need almost everything – food, medical supplies, sanitation services, construction, telecommunications, all kinds of assistance with technology (especially portals, call centers and security), cleaning services for uniforms and equipment, etc. Many states are launching portals so that contractors can list their available services and products.
The bad news is that the nation is experiencing a pandemic, but the good news is that there’s an abundance of collaboration and the country will pull out of this soon.