By Mary Kate McGrath - May 20, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is putting an economic strain on communities across the United States, as leaders struggle to balance the rising costs of response with shut-down local economies. Governments are doing their best to manage public health and economic priorities, and each state is likely to have its own challenges amid the COVID-19 emergency. For example, network limits in rural regions may mean communities are less prepared to transition to virtual learning or implement telehealth. Major metropolitan areas might put vulnerable people - such as the elderly or immunocompromised - at a higher risk, creating greater need for delivery services for these individuals
Obtaining PPE and other healthcare equipment has become the primary cost in many states, with some states reporting spending millions on emergency shipments of surgical masks, N95 masks, or ventilators to address surges in coronavirus patients. Essential workers, especially those in the frontlines, must also be compensated for their work, and critical government offices, such as unemployment agencies, must be scaled up to address the influx of workers laid off or furloughed due to the crisis.
The unpredictable nature of the current disaster may also require states to be more flexible with budgets, allocating funds to pursue creative solutions like contact tracing.
Below are several of the top costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic, including medical expenses, public health expenses, essential worker payroll, economic support contingencies, and scientific research to facilitate response.
COVID-19 has put a considerable strain on state and local governments, as communities move to expand personnel, access to protective equipment, build testing or treatment facilities, and distribute economic recovery grants. There are several strategies and resources available to local leaders looking to manage the financial strain of COVID-19 response or mitigation. First, FEMA is providing $100 million available to fire/EMS for COVID-19 response, supplemental funding for personal protective equipment (PPE), and related supplies. The funding is part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act through the Assistance for Firefighters. The grant application window is from April 28 to May 15.
Many states have established “relief funds” to help those most impacted by the coronavirus, allowing residents or businesses to contribute. In Massachusetts, city leaders founded the Boston Resiliency Fund, and the effort has raised $27.3 million to date. The priorities for the fund are food for children or seniors, technology for remote learning for students, and support for first responders and healthcare workers. Administrators can use a mass notification system to raise awareness about community efforts, encouraging those who are able to contribute to those most vulnerable to the economic impact of the coronavirus.
An emergency notification system is a critical component of a coronavirus response plan, facilitating the efforts government leaders to mitigate the crisis. Officials can leverage emergency communication to make sure resources reach residents in need across communities. SMS Opt-in might be a particularly helpful feature to residents looking for updates on school and business closures, food pick-up stations, grant programs for businesses, freelancers, contractors, or artists, and any other relevant information. The tool allows residents to text a code - such as COVID - to a specific number to opt-in for further updates as the situation develops and additional resources become available.
Mary Kate is a content specialist and social media manager for the Rave Mobile Safety team. She writes about public safety for the state & local and education spheres.
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