Leaders are moving forward with plans to disperse the first round of funding from the Federal Cares Act – $16.3 million – even as residents are reminded of the county’s long-standing, mandatory emergency order for face coverings.
The $16.3 million is the first 25 percent of funding – a potential $65.5 million that the County may be able to use for housing and business assistance in the midst of rising positive cases of COVID-19.
The pandemic has waged havoc on the County’s economy. Osceola has the highest unemployment rate in the state -- 31.1% in numbers made available Friday.
“Now that the CARES Act funds will be available, I am pleased that the County is identifying ways we can help our residents financially. I believe that the best place for the use of these dollars are to continue to provide rental and mortgage foreclosure prevention assistance, along with support for our small business community and additional funding to prevent food insecurity,” Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer said. “My fellow commissioners and I continue to see and hear from our residents about these difficult times and the ongoing concerns we all face. That’s why I’m still so proud to see the resilience of so many, with neighbor helping neighbor.”
Osceola’s CARES Act funding is far less than funds received in larger counties. That’s why it is important to have a good plan on how to utilize this crucial funding.
The CARES Act funding will be discussed at Monday’s County Commission meeting. addendum to Monday’s meeting agenda was posted today at Osceola.org, along with a form so residents can request to speak on the important matter.
The economic impact is on top of the pandemic’s toll on public health. Since early March, Osceola County has had 960 confirmed cases, with double digit increases reported daily since June 10.
With nearly 20,000 tests administered, the positive rate has remained below 5 percent. However, considering the increased testing and the positive rate remaining steady, it is clear that COVID-19 is still threat to Osceola County.
“Now more than ever it is incumbent on everyone in Osceola County to wear a face covering in public. When it was implemented on April 13, we were able to flatten the curve of cases of the Coronavirus,” said Janer. “But the statistics this week are concerning and we need everyone to wear coverings and continue to maintain proper social distancing and personal hygiene. We all have to take an active part to stay safe and healthy.”
Janer said the order is not intended as a punishment or a political statement, but is a public health safety precaution now being implemented by others – including Orange and Hillsborough counties.