LIHU‘E — The county has a remaining 24% of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds left to spend before the end of the year.
From March 1 to Oct. 31, the county expended or earmarked $21,354,855 of a $28-million package given from the state’s $1.25 billion. That’s about 75.8% of the funds used by the county.
Between September and October, the county spent nberly $3.5 million, according to a report submitted to the state.
The bulk of this money spent last month, $949,205.41, was used to purchase 15,000 rapid, same-day, COVID-19 tests from Mesa Biotech, a San Diego-based company. These tests are used for the county’s post-arrival testing program, offering incentives to non-residents to encourage them to take the test. The county worked with private partners to incentivise the test.
According to the county’s website, incentives — valued at about $150, roughly equivalent to the price of the test — are from Hilo Hattie, Kaua‘i Backcountry Adventures, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Lydgate Farms, Kipu Ranch Adventures, CJM Country Stables, Koa Kea’s Red Salt restaurant, Opakapaka Grill and Bar at the Hanalei Colony Resort, Dolphin restaurant and Hokuala Golf Course.
Nine of the 10 partners received $12,500 each for participating in the program, according to the October report.
The majority of the county’s $28 million was set aside for community services.
Part of this money, $180,000 each, was given to the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i Branch and the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank, to help support food distributions. Smaller line items for food support were given to Crossroads Christian Fellowship and E Ola Mau Na Leo O Kekaha to conduct distributions.
The county report portions the CARES Act money into 21 subsections, including six areas from which nonprofits could request funds, in areas ranging from food support to agriculture assistance to transforming tourism.
Nonprofits spent over $1.6 million in October, the majority by agriculture-focused projects. Since July, nonprofits have spent over $5.4 million.
These CARES Act federal funds have a Dec. 30 expiration date. The county has suggested it will utilize all of its funds by this deadline, and is working on contingency plans if that is not the case.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.