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Federal CARES Act Money Extended Through 2021; Milwaukee Officials Grateful But Say More Is Needed

mobiletesting.jpg
Chuck Quirmbach
/
WUWM
The COVID-19 mobile testing site at Barack Obama School in Milwaukee.

Federal CARES Act money provided to state, local and tribal governments impacted by COVID-19 was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020. But Congress passing the $900 billion stimulus package earlier this month, means local municipalities have until the end of 2021 to use up their CARES funds. That’s according to Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

During a COVID-19 media briefing Tuesday, Crowley said the extension didn’t come with any additional funding and that could put the county in a tough spot next year.

"All of our CARES dollars from 2020 already has its name on it for a lot of the dollars. We've allocated more than $77 million that we've received in federal funding to keep our communities safe and healthy. And these funds are going to enhance safety measures and county facilities and towards community services like mental health and housing assistance. But more will be needed in the next year to fill this hit that we have taken as a result of the COVID-19 response," he said.

But Crowley said there is a “bright spot” in new stimulus package: $25 billion in rental assistance.

"We expect additional funds to come to Milwaukee County, where we will continue to provide eviction prevention as well as mortgage assistance to those who need it most — especially as we approach Wisconsin's cold winter months," he said.

Milwaukee’s mobile site at Barack Obama High School — formerly Custer High School on N. Sherman Blvd. – started testing Tuesday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. And testing will continue there for two weeks. He said the mobile testing sites will move where there are higher levels of COVID-19 illness.

The testing is being provided by a private company through the city and people will get their results within days. Barrett said testing is at no cost to individuals.

"But unlike other city testing sites, the private vendor will bill a person's health insurance. The city using the federal funds that the county executive alluded to will be the payer of last resort, if private insurance funding is not available," he explained.

Barrett said there is a plan to put a second mobile testing site on the south side, and said details will be announced as they become available.

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