Fresno City, County officials discuss how to spend $170 million of CARES Act funding

Local News

FRESNO, California (KGPE) – As cases continue to rise, work is underway to alleviate the pressure building on Fresno County – and the city of Fresno.

Federal, state, county, and city officials met on Tuesday to discuss how to spend $170 million in CARES Act funding.

Both entities have allocated spending for two-thirds of the fund. The city has spent $14 million and has committed to around $30 million; the county has spent $40 million.

The meeting was prompted by a confrontation between state Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula and Supervisor Nathan Magsig 11 days ago. Arambula claimed officials weren’t doing enough to distribute money to taxpayers.

“We were wired the money from the federal government in April,” said Arambula. “We are over 100 days into this pandemic and I would ask the county, ‘Where is their urgency so we can combat this virus in real time.”

City, County, and health officials discussed several issues throughout the meeting including: a testing lag, staffing shortage, and lack of education on social distancing protocols.

“It is going to be essential to have good communication and teamwork,” said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra. “I think time is deadly and failure is not an option for us.”

Fresno County has recently ramped up testing, creating a backlog in the lab results. Vohra said there have been instances when it takes two weeks to get results.

City Councilmember Luis Chavez proposed the city and county split the cost of additional processing.

“To buy joint equipment, so we can get 24-hour turn around time so those that test positive can isolate,” said Chavez. “Or those that test negative can go back to work.”

Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig, who has been in communication with local hospitals, said the next issue to address is the shortage of staff and supplies at hospitals.

“What I have heard loud and clear is that they are burning through a tremendous amount of personal protective equipment,” said Magsig.

“I think the latest number I heard is they are going through about 3,500 N95 masks a day. So making sure they don’t run out is one of my top priorities and that is what I want to focus on.”

Fresno County did receive an additional $10 million from the state on Monday to help with these issues, but local officials fear it is not enough.

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