How Will San Diego County Spend Its $334 Million In Stimulus Funds?
San Diego County Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Dianne Jacob on Monday announced a plan for how to spend the $334 million the county is getting from the federal stimulus bill.
Under the plan due for a vote by the full board of supervisors Tuesday, the vast majority of the money would fund the county's public health actions related to the coronavirus pandemic, including the "T3" strategy of testing, tracing and treatment. The county has also already allocated $5 million for childcare vouchers for essential workers.
Additionally, Fletcher and Jacob are proposing that $34 million be dedicated to small business relief, child welfare services and enhanced telemedicine for mental health and addiction treatment.
Fletcher said details of the plan's $17 million stimulus fund for small businesses would be worked out by county staffers.
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"We're asking the (chief administrative officer) to come back to us in 45 days with a plan to allocate that $17 million," Fletcher said. "The hope is that we can plug some holes in areas that are not covered by state or federal funding."
Another $2 million would fund increased child welfare services, including more frequent home visits to vulnerable families. Referrals to the county’s child abuse hotline have dropped 41 percent since schools closed, the supervisors said. Officials believe child abuse is still happening, but it's not being reported because teachers, who are among the most frequent reporters of child abuse, aren’t seeing their students every day.
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Finally, the Fletcher and Jacob plan allocates $15 million toward improving telehealth services for mental health and addiction treatment providers. Many of them lack the technology, software and staff training to properly deliver their services remotely, the supervisors said.
"I have long thought that telemedicine, especially around behavioral health, is something we should embrace more fully," Fletcher said. "And so we think that this is not only right to do in the crisis environment we're in and will be in for the near future, but we think that this is a systemic change that can reap benefits moving forward."
The nearly $2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress in March offers some money to cities for expenses directly related to the pandemic response — but only to cities with populations of more than 500,000. Fletcher and Jacob propose passing on $20 million of the county's CARES Act allocation to the 17 smaller cities in the county for their costs related to COVID-19.
Supervisors Greg Cox and Kristin Gaspar had previously proposed $50 million for cities. That proposal is also on the board’s Tuesday agenda.