Federal COVID-19 relief bill would bring $84 million to Washington County
Credit: Herald Mail-Media, Dave McMillion
Washington County government could receive an estimated $29 million, and Washington County Public Schools could get about $55 million through a COVID-19 relief bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives over the weekend, U.S. Rep. David Trone announced Tuesday.
Trone, D-Md., announced the funding during a virtual news conference Tuesday morning.
The relief package pushed by President Joe Biden amounts to $1.9 trillion in relief for the country, earmarking $1,400 payments to individuals earning a certain amount of money, setting aside money to help keep kids in school, ramping up vaccination distribution, extending unemployment aid, and other help. But it does not include increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The measure is currently being considered in the U.S. Senate. If it passes there, it will go back to the House again for consideration. If it’s successful, it will go to Biden’s desk for signature.
Trone and his staff said they have made estimations on how much local governments across Western Maryland would get under the deal. A total of $350 million would be sent to local governments across the country to help them deal with dwindling revenues as a result of the pandemic.
Washington County has not received pandemic relief funding in a while, said Trone spokeswoman Hannah Muldavin. It would be up to the Washington County Board of Commissioners as to how they would want to distribute the money, she said.
There is other specific funding for small businesses, restaurants, women and minority-owned businesses, veterans and addiction assistance, according to Trone‘s office.
It is not known yet what level of funding in those areas would be coming to the county, Muldavin said. She said Trone‘s office would announce those funding amounts “as the money gets pushed out.”
Muldavin said schools need extra funding to deal with needs like ventilation system upgrades, buying more personal protective equipment hiring additional support staff. Washington County Public Schools reopened schools again last month as it continues to respond to the pandemic.
Trone illustrated how the pandemic has affected citizens through the number of inquiries his office receives. In 2019, Trone said his office got 2,100 inquiries. In 2020, it got 7,500, he said.
He said calls about vaccinations is the “No. 1 question I get every week.”
The bill sets aside a total of $160 billion for vaccine development.
Trone praised the House passage of the bill.
“It’s a call to action, and I was proud to vote for it,” he said.
Jim Kercheval, executive director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee, was among those who spoke in the press conference. The committee was established in 1987 to bring together local leaders to discuss broad issues of importance to the area.
Kercheval, who said he has been part of a business response team in the pandemic, said he has never seen such an impact to the local economy like the one coronavirus has caused. Kercheval used to own a barbecue business, and he wonders how he would have navigated through this.
Kercheval said the relief bill is vital to “getting our economy going and restarted again.”
Individuals would get $1,400 under the bill if they:
• are single filers earning up to $75,000.
• head-of-household earning up to $112,500
• joint filers earning up to $150,000.