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Gov. Ricketts presents overview of how federal aid will be used

Gov. Pete Ricketts updates Nebraska's COVID-19 response during his daily news conference...
Gov. Pete Ricketts updates Nebraska's COVID-19 response during his daily news conference Wednesday afternoon, May 28, 2020. (WOWT) (WOWT)
Published: May. 26, 2020 at 7:44 PM CDT
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Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts on Wednesday presented an overview of how federal funding the state has received will be used to assist recovery efforts from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ricketts said 44 percent of hospital beds are available in the state, with 43 percent of ICU beds available and 77 percent of ventilators are available.

Test Nebraska has seen more than 150,000 people sign up as test sites are open in Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, York, Beatrice, Kearney, Clay Center, and Seward this week.

CARES Act funding

Ricketts held a PowerPoint presentation to explain how funding from the federal CARES Act and other legislation will be used in Nebraska.

As of Wednesday, Nebraska has received $10.8 billion through federal COVID-19 supplemental appropriations. He said the state's GDP is $114 to $120 billion, so the amount received is significant.

Here is a breakdown according to the information Ricketts presented on funds spent on public health and assistance:

  • Assistance for Children and Families: $39.6 million
  • Assistance for Aging and Disabled: $7 million
  • Public Health Response and Preparedness: $84 million
  • Health Centers and Rural Hospitals: $15.1 million
  • Emergency Food Assistance: $7.6 million
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health: $2 million
  • Homeless and Housing Assistance: $10.4 million
CARES Act funding for healthcare and programs

Direct local healthcare provider appropriations total about $507 million for community health centers, provider relief funds, and hospital preparedness.

The Paycheck Protection Program, economic injury disaster loans, and economic impact payments total about $8.17 billion for small business loans and other funds.

Unemployment insurance has distributed $225 million through $600 per week payments, plus $6 million for unemployment insurance administrative costs.

Miscellaneous funding includes urban and rural transit, airport grants, state election security, library services, department of justice, and community development block grants for about $155 million.

Changes to the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage will benefit the state for about $70 million, Ricketts said.

Education stablilization fund

Nebraska received $151.3 million from the education stabilization fund, which has been funneled into higher education emergency relief, elementary and secondary education relief, and the governor's emergency education relief funds.

A total of $69.8 million has been given to the University of Nebraska, the State College System, community college areas, and non-public and private institutions. Elementary and secondary education school districts have received about $65 million.

Coronavirus Relief Fund

Of the $1.25 billion Nebraska received to pay towards costs incurred by COVID-19, Douglas County received $166 million while the remaining $1.084 billion will be spread across the rest of the state.

State and local governments will receive $180 million. Community CARES will receive $85 million and businesses through several different avenues will receive $392 million.

The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund will receive $427 million.

The state government will use $80 million for necessary expenditures like buying personal protective equipment, sanitizer, and other COVID-19 medical supplies, paying for medical leave, temporary staffing, and payroll for public health and public safety employees.

Local governments will receive $100 million for costs like those listed for the state.

Community CARES funds

The Community CARES fund will receive about $85 million for community collaboratives that provide food and housing, behavioral health regions, providers, and shelters.

A program will provide qualifying organizations with grants or reimbursements of $25,000 or more to support existing services that have been strained during the pandemic.

Small business & livestock producers

Small Business and Livestock Producers Stabilization program will be allocated $330 million. Small businesses in industries hit hardest by the pandemic which have five to 49 employees and livestock producers between one and 10 employees are who the program is for.

This includes producers of beef, pork, poultry, dairy, sheep, and goat products. Qualified applicants can receive a $12,000 grant.

Remote Access

A total of $62 million will be spent on increasing remote access capabilities -- like broadband internet connections in rural areas -- workforce retraining, Gallup's Back to Business Learning program, and administrative support.

Remote access funds will impact 63,852 Nebraskans or 26,285 households among 41 communities ranging in size between 1,000 to 5,000 residents.

Q&A

Wrapping up the presentation, Ricketts moved onto questions. He was asked if there were any indications of voter fraud or forgery from Nebraska's primary election this year, as

Tuesday that mail-in ballots are fraudulent.

Ricketts said he has not heard of any fraud claims or issues from Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen. Asked if Twitter should fact-check politicians, Ricketts said as a private company he defers to Twitter as to how they operate their business.

Asked if the funding from the federal government will last through the end of the year, Ricketts said he expects it to but added how much local governments report their spendings will influence things.

Ricketts was asked why the state is seeking to hire an outside firm to oversee the funds -- he said the enormity of the project combined with how busy state workers already are will require more help.

Nebraska COVID-19 response update

Gov. Pete Ricketts and other Nebraska officials give an update on the state's COVID-19 response. Details: https://www.wowt.com/content/news/Nebraska-governor-COVID-19-response-update-for-Wednesday-May-27-2020-570787221.html

Posted by WOWT 6 News on Wednesday, May 27, 2020