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New funding to help counties with COVID-19 response costs


Tue, Dec 21st 2021 11:20 am

Assistance to cover costs associated with vaccine, booster, tests & mask-related expenses

√ Funds help counties combat rise in cases during holiday season surge

√ Hochul: Getting vaccinated, boosted & wearing masks continue to be best ways to stay safe during season of indoor gatherings

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced she is making $65 million available to counties across New York to help with the costs associated with administering vaccines and boosters, and enforcing the mask-or-vaccine mandate for indoor public places that went into effect statewide last week.

"Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask are the surest ways to fight COVID and stay safe, and this funding will help counties across the state enforce the reasonable, responsible and effective mask-or-vax mandate in place until mid-January," Hochul said. "The state is taking extensive measures to fight this pandemic and giving New Yorkers the tools everyone needs to stay safe. Instead of spreading COVID, let's spread holiday cheer and do it safely by getting vaccinated and wearing masks indoors in public spaces."

Up to $1 million will be available for most counties, with larger counties eligible to receive up to $2 million. 

Hochul’s team said, “While it is the state's expectation that New Yorkers will understand the importance of following the new requirements during the winter surge and as we enter this holiday season, enforcement will be done by the local health departments. The new funds will apply to expenses incurred by counties and local health departments from when the mask-or-vaccine mandate was announced on Dec. 10 until its expiration on Jan. 15, 2022, and will be provided on a reimbursement basis through an application to the Department of Health.”

Eligible expenses include: staffing and venue-specific costs for any sites offering vaccines, boosters and/or tests; personnel costs associated with mask, test and vaccine/booster distribution; personnel costs associated with mask protocol enforcement; and public awareness efforts for the mask-or-vaccine protocol.

Acting Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Layered mitigation is critical to combating the winter surge. The state continues to do everything possible to promote and protect the health of New Yorkers, and this new funding will help support these efforts in local communities on the ground – so they have the resources they need to keep community members safe. As cases and hospitalizations rise, we must remember: We have the tools we need to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Expanding funding to support local county health departments through access to testing, masks and – most of all – getting vaccinated and boosted, remain our best defenses against the virus and omicron variant."

Counties that participate in the enforcement of the statewide mask-or-vax mandate will be eligible to apply for this additional assistance. Funding for other costs is still available for all counties from a separate $65 million made available in September.

The announcement comes at a time when new cases are rising quickly in a holiday surge. Hochul's administration is responding with aggressive measures intended to keep hospitalizations and infections as low as possible.

Contributors to the recent surge include the delta and omicron variants of COVID-19, as well as increased indoor gatherings during the holiday season.

On Friday, Hochul announced the deployment of more than 40 new vaccination pop-up sites around the state.

The administration is also working to increase the availability of testing for New Yorkers, with testing being performed at mass-vaccination sites, a new testing portal online launching soon, and 10 million new test kits being deployed to local health departments by the end of January, including 5 million before New Year's Day.

Hochul had announced a separate $65 million in assistance to counties in September to assist with the “quick and reliable distribution of booster shots.”

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