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Update on CARES Act Funding for Special Districts

Banner image of COVID-19 social distancing advice and safety measures

CARES Act Funding Allocation for Special Districts Has Been Exhausted
We were recently notified that the $24 million of CARES Act funding allocated to special districts has now been exhausted. For districts that are still seeking reimbursement for eligible COVID-19 expenses, funding may be available through FEMA Public Assistance (PA) funds.

Special districts may go to the FEMA Grants Portal and begin the public assistance application process by registering with FEMA Grants Portal and submitting their Request for Public Assistance (RPA). Special districts must submit their own RPA application, to be considered for FEMA PA grants. Once the application has been approved, districts can access and request public assistance. Applicants whom are already registered in FEMA Grants Portal can submit an RPA for their organization directly by logging into

 Public assistance would typically not reimburse for straight-time pay or benefits, but it does cover overtime and backfill costs related to response activities for COVID-19.

Nonexclusive Examples of Eligible Expenditures
Eligible expenditures include, but are not limited to, payment for:

  1. Medical expenses such as:
    a. COVID-19-related expenses of public hospitals, clinics, and similar facilities.
    b. Expenses of establishing temporary public medical facilities and other measures to increase COVID-19 treatment capacity, including related construction costs.  
    c. Costs of providing COVID-19 testing, including serological testing.
    d. Emergency medical response expenses, including emergency medical transportation, related to COVID-19. 
    e. Expenses for establishing and operating public telemedicine capabilities for COVID-19related treatment.  
  2. Public health expenses such as:
    a. Expenses for communication and enforcement by State, territorial, local, and Tribal governments of public health orders related to COVID-19.
    b. Expenses for acquisition and distribution of medical and protective supplies, including sanitizing products and personal protective equipment, for medical personnel, police officers, social workers, child protection services, and child welfare officers, direct service providers for older adults and individuals with disabilities in community settings, and other public health or safety workers in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency. 
    c. Expenses for disinfection of public areas and other facilities, e.g., nursing homes, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
    d. Expenses for technical assistance to local authorities or other entities on mitigation of COVID-19-related threats to public health and safety.
    e. Expenses for public safety measures undertaken in response to COVID-19.
    f. Expenses for quarantining individuals.
  3. Payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID19 public health emergency.    
  4. Expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures, such as:
    a. Expenses for food delivery to residents, including, for example, senior citizens and other vulnerable populations, to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
    b. Expenses to facilitate distance learning, including technological improvements, in connection with school closings to enable compliance with COVID-19 precautions.
    c. Expenses to improve telework capabilities for public employees to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
    d. Expenses of providing paid sick and paid family and medical leave to public employees to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
    e. COVID-19-related expenses of maintaining state prisons and county jails, including as relates to sanitation and improvement of social distancing measures, to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
    f. Expenses for care for homeless populations provided to mitigate COVID-19 effects and enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
  5. Expenses associated with the provision of economic support in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency, such as:
    a. Expenditures related to the provision of grants to small businesses to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures.
    b. Expenditures related to a State, territorial, local, or Tribal government payroll support program.  
    c. Unemployment insurance costs related to the COVID-19 public health emergency if such costs will not be reimbursed by the federal government pursuant to the CARES Act or otherwise.
  6. Any other COVID-19-related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria.

The following is a list of examples of costs that would not be eligible expenditures of payments from the Fund. 

  • Expenses for the State share of Medicaid.
  • Damages covered by insurance.
  • Payroll or benefits expenses for employees whose work duties are not substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Expenses that have been or will be reimbursed under any federal program, such as the reimbursement by the federal government pursuant to the CARES Act of contributions by States to State unemployment funds. 
  • Reimbursement to donors for donated items or services.
  • Workforce bonuses other than hazard pay or overtime.
  • Severance pay.
  • Legal settlements.

General Questions
Julie Slevin, State Public Assistance Officer

Dan Gwin, Deputy State Public Assistance Officer

SDAO Risk Management

FEMA Grants Portal Questions
Selicity Icefire, Public Assistance Grants Assistant