COUNTY GIV­ING BIG­GEST SHARE OF COVID-19 CASH TO BERWYN

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY RACHEL HINTON, STAFF REPORTER rhin­ton@sun­times.com | @rrhin­ton

More than 100 Cook County sub­urbs will re­ceive roughly $51 mil­lion in fed­eral re­lief dol­lars for per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment, hand san­i­tizer and other ex­penses re­lated to the coro­n­avirus, of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day.

Of those mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, Berwyn will re­ceive the most money. A to­tal of $788,000 of the fund­ing has been al­lo­cated to that western sub­urb.

The county re­ceived $429 mil­lion through the fed­eral Coro­n­avirus Aid, Re­lief, and Eco­nomic Se­cu­rity Act. Local units of gov­ern­ment were then al­lowed to dis­trib­ute the money to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with fewer than 500,000 peo­ple.

Sub­urbs will only be able to use the funds for di­rect ex­penses re­lated to the coro­n­avirus, such as those as­so­ci­ated with buy­ing per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment. The cities and towns must sub­mit their ex­penses to the county to be re­im­bursed for what they spend.

“The main con­sid­er­a­tion for al­lo­cat­ing the funds was so­cioe­co­nomic de­ter­mi­nants and pub­lic health needs,” Cook County Board Pres­i­dent Toni Preck­win­kle said Wed­nes­day in Berwyn. “As we know, COVID-19 is hav­ing a dis­pro­por­tion­ate im­pact on Black and Brown com­mu­ni­ties, and this ap­proach is de­signed to en­sure th­ese dol­lars are go­ing to com­mu­ni­ties most im­pacted by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.”

The county worked with the Chicago Metropoli­tan Agency for Plan­ning to cre­ate an “eq­ui­table fund­ing for­mula” that dis­trib­uted the fed­eral dol­lars based on a mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s im­me­di­ate needs to re­spond to the coro­n­avirus, pop­u­la­tion, me­dian in­come and pub­lic health sta­tis­tics for the com­mu­nity, Preck­win­kle said.

Berwyn is in line to re­ceive the most money be­cause it’s the sec­ond-most densely pop­u­lated city in the county, said Preck­win­kle spokesman Nick Shields.

Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero said the fund­ing “demon­strates the county’s com­mit­ment to re­cov­ery in the com­mu­ni­ties that need it most.” He said the city has kept its coro­n­avirus-re­lated ex­penses for hand san­i­tizer, per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment and other things “bun­dled.” Once they get the el­i­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments, Lovero said, Berwyn will ap­ply to be re­im­bursed.

Preck­win­kle said she’s hope­ful the Se­nate will act on the Health and Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery Om­nibus Emer­gency Solutions, or HE­ROES, Act once it’s back from re­cess this month. If passed, that bill could al­low smaller units of gov­ern­ment to get re­im­bursed for rev­enue lost dur­ing the pan­demic.

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