On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. This legislation authorized more than $2 trillion to combat the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its economic effects, including cash relief for individual citizens, loan programs for small businesses, and support for hospitals, medical providers, schools, and other impacted industries. The CARES Act established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and appropriated $150 billion to this fund. Under the CARES Act, the State of California received $9.5 billion. Through California’s 2020 Budget Act, Merced County was allocated approximately $28.9 million of the State’s Coronavirus Relief Funds for COVID-19 expenditures and to address impacts of the pandemic. Funding is contingent on adherence to federal and state guidance and health requirements. On June 30, 2020, the County submitted its Certification Form to the California Department of Finance for receipt of funds pursuant to paragraph (3) of Subdivision (d) of Control Section 11.90 of the Budget Act of 2020.
In accordance with the CARES Act, CRF funds are to address actions necessary to directly respond to the public health emergency with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as expenditures addressing medical or public health needs, as well as second-order effects of the emergency, such as providing economic support to those suffering from employment or business interruptions due to COVID-19 business closures. At the time of this writing, CRF funds cannot be utilized to cover revenue loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The statute also specifies that expenditures using CRF funding must be “necessary” due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, with the U.S. Department of the Treasury outlining that local governments are responsible for making determinations as to what expenditures are necessary.
The CARES Act specifies that payments from the CRF may only be used to cover costs that:
- Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19;
- Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020, the date of enactment of the CARES Act, for the State or local government; and
- Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020 and ends on December 30, 2020.
The U.S. Treasury issued initial guidance regarding the eligible uses for CRF on April 22, 2020, which continues to evolve, and has issued updates on subsequent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documents.
Included below is a copy of the Merced County CARES Act Funding Plan, associated presentations, and reports.