ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan on Thursday announced the commitment of $70 million in new investments for initiatives to protect the health, safety, and well-being of Marylanders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The $70 million of new investments I’m announcing today will help us to protect the health and safety of even more Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “Unfortunately, we have more tough times ahead of us, and it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better. But we truly are all in this together, and if we all do our part to rise to this challenge and to meet this moment, we will get through this together.”
Thursday’s initiatives—funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—include:
$20M: Additional Funding for PPE
The governor announced $20 million for the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to continue building up the state’s strategic stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE). Earlier this week, state budget officials encouraged county leaders to utilize some of their remaining CARES Act resources to build up their supplies of critical PPE, particularly gloves, gowns, and masks.
$15M: Unemployment Insurance Measures
The governor announced $15 million for the Maryland Department of Labor to provide additional staffing support for the Division of Unemployment Insurance. These resources will be devoted to expand call center staffing and adjudication staffing, to improve customer service management software, and to provide additional fraud detection measures. To date, the department has administered nearly $8 billion in benefits to more than 640,000 Marylanders.
$10M: Additional Relief for Renters
The governor announced an additional $10 million to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for the next installment of relief for renters. The Assisted Housing Relief Program helps low-income tenants in state-funded properties who have been affected by COVID-19. To date, this program has provided more than 4,500 rental payments for Maryland families. New applications for November rent are being accepted now.
$10M: Mass Vaccination Planning
The governor announced an initial investment of $10 million to accelerate the state’s planning for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. In April, MDH began the interagency planning process for ordering, distributing, and administering COVID-19 vaccines. Last month, the state submitted to the CDC a draft vaccination plan that prioritizes vulnerable populations.
$10M: Additional Support for Area Food Banks
The governor announced an additional investment of $10 million in area food banks, including $7 million for the Maryland Food Bank and $2.3 million for the Capital Area Food Bank. This spring, the state invested $4 million to the Maryland Food Bank and the Capital Area Food Bank, and worked with local jurisdictions to match that investment.
$2M: Supplemental Resources for Foster Care
The governor announced $2 million in emergency supplemental resources to the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) for foster care to help providers meet the needs of the youth entrusted to their care. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, DHS has extended foster care services, to include transitional planning for youth beyond their 21st birthday through the end of June 2021. Extending these vital services will mean that the approximately 350 youth in care aged 21 will have the opportunity to stay in care and receive additional employment, education, housing stability and mental health services.
$2M: SNAP and Energy Assistance Administration
The governor announced $2 million for the Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) to increase call handling capacity, extend daily hours of operation, and add weekend operations specifically to help DHS manage the increase in demand for SNAP and energy assistance programs.
$1M: Innovative Wastewater Testing Initiative
The governor announced $1 million for phase two of Maryland’s COVID-19 Sewer Sentel Initiative to sample wastewater as an early warning system for a coronavirus outbreak in vulnerable Maryland communities. This builds on a pilot program launched over the summer that showed wastewater sampling provides advanced notice of an outbreak before it is detected through traditional testing.
MD COVID ALERT UPDATE
Governor Hogan announced that more than 460,000 Marylanders have already subscribed to MD COVID Alert since its launch on Tuesday morning. MD COVID Alert bolster’s the state’s contact tracing efforts by using exposure notifications technology to notify users who may have been exposed to an infected individual. Opt-in today to participate in protecting all Marylanders from COVID-19.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY INITIATIVE UPDATES
In addition, Governor Hogan provided updates on the $250 million ‘Maryland Strong: Economic Recovery Initiative’ he announced last month.
RESTAURANT RELIEF PROGRAM. The Maryland Department of Commerce is working with local jurisdictions to distribute $50 million in direct relief to restaurants across the state. Nearly half of the state’s jurisdictions have begun accepting applications.
LAYOFF AVERSION FUND. The Maryland Department of Labor has begun issuing new payments to small businesses for the second round of its Layoff Aversion Fund. Applicants have been awarded a total of over $5.7 million, saving another 3,100 jobs—for a total of more than 12,000 jobs saved through this program to date.
SMALL BUSINESS COVID-19 EMERGENCY RELIEF GRANT FUND. The Maryland Department of Commerce has been processing hundreds of applications daily for the third round of the state’s Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Fund. Those payments will be disbursed in the coming days.