COVID-19 relief will benefit Denver, and public health efforts
Congress has passed, and the President has finally signed, a new stimulus and coronavirus relief package that will benefit Denver businesses, residents and public health efforts.
The deal includes additional funding for loans to small businesses with the Paycheck Protection Program and extended unemployment benefits, as well as an extension of the eviction moratorium through Jan. 31, 2021 and additional funding for rental assistance, public school districts, child care providers, non-profits, and SNAP benefit recipients. Funding was also included to assist with COVID-19 testing, vaccine distribution and to make FDA-approved vaccines available for free to those who need it.
“This is a long-awaited deal, and while it doesn’t go as far as we would have liked and was unnecessarily delayed by the President, it will provide some much-needed relief to those families, small businesses and industries hit hardest by the effects of the virus,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “The job isn’t finished, and I encourage our members of Congress to pass additional relief in the next session to help people make it through the end of this pandemic and bolster the economic recovery.”
The deadline for expending coronavirus relief funding, which was previously set for Dec. 30, 2020, has been extended through the end of 2021. Denver received $126.8 million in CRF dollars on April 21, 2020. A Phase 1 deployment of funds, announced on May 29, totaled $18.4 million. Phase 2 funds, announced on Aug. 6, totaled $26.68 million, Phase 3 funds, announced on Oct. 20, totaled $12.5 million, and an additional year-end award of $4 million for workers, small businesses, and renters was announced Dec. 9. The city has allocated $41.45 million to support citywide operations relating to the pandemic, such as offsetting emergency payroll and operations expenses, making public health improvements to buildings, technology to support remote city workers, and to match FEMA funds provided for emergency response ($15M). A further $22.7 million is set aside to cover emergency shelter expenses related to the pandemic while the costs are pending approval of reimbursement by FEMA. The extension allows Denver more time to receive a determination from FEMA regarding eligibility for emergency COVID-19 shelter expenses which could free additional dollars for emergency and community needs.
The stimulus deal also includes $15 billion for live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions. The Save our Stages Act, which was introduced by Colorado’s Sen. Michael Bennet, will provide needed financial relief to these venues that have faced financial shortfalls because of capacity restrictions and cancelled events. Denver stands ready to support our local venues and securing funding through
Denver remains hopeful that a further measure will be introduced and passed under the Biden Administration and in the next session of Congress to provide direct funding to state and local governments managing reduced revenues due to public health and safety measures. Mayor Hancock has continued to advocate to Colorado congressional delegation directly, and as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, on behalf of local governments to receive direct financial aid to help close budget gaps so states and cities can restore vital services that have needed to be cut as a result of the pandemic.
Editors Note: As of press, (R) Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell blocked the Democratic bid to unanimously pass a $2,000 increase in stimulus checks. McConnell now under imense presssure after several dozen House Republicans joined Democrats in passing the increase as well as President Donald Trump who has publicly supported the $2000 stimulus increase.
President’s letter to the Speaker of the House: “Dear Madam Speaker: In accordance with section 6(a) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R. 133; the “Act”), I hereby designate as emergency requirements all funding (including the rescission of funds) so designated by the Congress in the Act pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as outlined in the enclosed list of accounts.
The details of this action are set forth in the enclosed memorandum from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Sincerely, Donald J. Trump”
The passage of the bipartisan SB20B-001 allocated $35.15M to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) for grants to certain small businesses across Colorado, struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic. SB20B-001 was sponsored by Sens. Faith Winter and Kevin Priola, and Reps. Leslie Herod and Shane Sandridge.
The City and County of Denver and the State of Colorado are ensuring that every person who receives their first dose of the vaccine will be able to access a second dose in the correct time frame. These efforts are also in partnership with the federal government.
The vaccine will be free, but some providers/pharmacies may ask for insurance so that they can bill for the vaccine administration fee. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance will cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, uninsured Coloradans will have access to free vaccines.