Putting CARES Act Funds To Work: Prioritizing Testing and PPE to Protect Americans

Federal support is needed to ensure that states and territories have the necessary PPE and testing resources to protect our health care workers, all Americans, and continue to safely open our economies. NGA urges Congress to consider the needs of states and territories as it deliberates on an additional COVID-19 supplemental bill.

Susie Perez Quinn | Director, Government Relations

Governors are battling the effects of the coronavirus on all fronts: protecting and supporting public health, assisting those struggling with unemployment, and working to ensure every student has access to education. In addition, states are facing the largest increase in COVID-19 cases, with over 100,000 hospitalizations nationwide. As states and territories must spend more money to meet these challenges, pandemic-related revenue losses are creating substantial obstacles and uncertainty to effective budgeting.

The passage of the CARES Act prevented an unprecedented economic collapse in the early days of the pandemic and provided much needed support to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. States, territories and certain localities received $150 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds that were immediately put to use to ensure the continuation of vital public services. While this aid was extremely helpful and states worked quickly and responsibly to expend it, more support is needed to protect frontline healthcare workers and increase availability of COVID-19 testing.In October, NGA surveyed Governor’s offices and received responses from 42 States, indicating the top expenditure category was health, including funding for PPE, testing, and other health related expenses.

Here are four examples of the effective stewardship shown by Governors using federal assistance to protect our front-line health care workers:

In June, Governor Northam announced that Virginia would use $246 million in CARES Act funds to support long-term care facilities in their response to COVID-19.

“The lockdowns of long-term care facilities to protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on residents and their families. These actions will help support long-term care facilities as they ease those restrictions, while keeping their residents safe and ensuring that the public gets accurate information on the spread of this virus in these facilities.”

Governor Ralph Northam

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey recently announced that his state would invest $25 million to bolster hospital staffing in the midst of rising cases nationwide and reward frontline medical workers for their dedication. It will also utilize $116 million for testing, contact tracing, and surge capacity.

In Kansas, the State Finance Council unanimously approved investing up to $45 million more in COVID-19 testing across Kansas and to provide $20 million more for small businesses.

“Today’s actions will bolster our Unified Testing Strategy and allow us to provide up to one million COVID-19 tests by the end of the year.”

Governor Laura Kelly

Connecticut has directed $230 million of CARES Act funds towards testing, which will include working to develop new technologies, enhancing testing inventory and capacity, discovering who is carrying anti-bodies, and increasing efficiencies in the ordering, purchasing, and delivering of testing supplies. The state has also utilized $100 million in CRF money to secure personal protective equipment and other critical supplies for frontline health workers.