The King County Council this week approved a fourth round of emergency funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Totaling nearly $100 million, the Fourth Emergency COVID Omnibus budget was passed unanimously Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 1, 2020, and provides funding for a variety of needed services and programs.

The vast majority of funding is to continue to bolster Public Health’s response to the pandemic, to support and continue to expand testing, and to maintain the isolation and de-intensification sites throughout the County.

The funding package includes:

    • Continues to fund isolation/quarantine and recovery centers through the end of the year: $12.6 million.
      Funds the public health response through the end of the year: $29 million.
    • Continues to fund hotel vouchers for the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness through the end of the year: $2.5 million.
    • Provides funding for an outreach and compliance initiative to help restaurants, bars and taverns increase compliance with the Governor’s safe start orders: $2.7 million.
    • Provides funding to support arts, culture, and science organizations: $2.5 million. ($2M to 4Culture and additional $500K to arts, culture or science organizations that have been adversely affected by closures, cancellations and loss of work).
    • Provides funding for emergency child care: $4.3 million.
    • Provides rental assistance for local businesses that are responding to Covid-19. $1.5 million.
    • Provides expanded flu vaccination in communities disproportionally impacted by Covid. $650,000.

“Sometimes government can get a bad rap for moving slowly during times of crisis,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Council Budget Chair. “But, over the past six months since COVID-19 began to hit hard around our county we have acted quickly to support small businesses, organizations, public health, medical professionals and those in our community hit hardest by the economic fallout caused by the pandemic. This fourth COVID-19 emergency budget continues this strong effort to uplift our region to do all we can to get needed relief to those most in need and recover from the economic recession that has ensured.”

Additionally, calls to domestic violence hotlines across the United States have surged upwards of 25% since social distancing measures were enacted. In response, Kohl-Welles was able to include an amendment that provides an additional $750,000 for supporting survivors of domestic violence.

“From homelessness and housing instability, behavioral health disorders, racial injustices, food insecurity, to domestic violence and more, COVID-19 has exacerbated chronic issues that have plagued our communities for a long time,” said Kohl-Welles. “It is imperative that we continue to tackle these problems head on to support people and communities throughout King County who are suffering.”

The Council first approved $27.4 million in the first COVID-19 emergency funding measure in March and another $62.9 million was approved in mid-May. A $90.6M third round of emergency funding was passed in late June. As with prior emergency funding measures, King County expects much of the emergency spending to be reimbursed by state and federal funds.

Scott Schaefer

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