BRADENTON, Fla. — COVID-19 cases continue to rise while CARES ACT money — that counties have been using to fight the virus — is coming to an end.
Manatee and Sarasota counties are seeing the highest COVID-19 cases since the pandemic spiked in July.
As COVID-19 cases rise, millions of dollars to help counties fight the virus is about to run out.
In March, Congress gave $150 billion to help state and local governments deal with the pandemic. But that funding expires on Dec. 30.
"So after Dec. 30, that money, even if we didn’t spend it and we are holding it, it has to go back," said Jake Saur, Manatee County Public Safety Director.
Manatee County has used the money to help local residents and businesses impacted by the pandemic, to buy PPE, and to have testing in addition to the state-run sites.
If the CARES ACT is not extended, the county will lose $30 million to help them through the pandemic. A pandemic that many fear is not close to over.
"Unfortunately, I don’t believe we’re going to be in any better spot come Dec. 30 or Jan. 1. In fact, if we continue to watch our case numbers rise, we’re going to be back into the height of a spike," said Saur.
Congressman Vern Buchanan who represents Manatee and Sarasota counties sent a letter to Congress asking them to act on extending the funding before the end of the year.
Manatee County says they’re looking at ways to use the general fund to help fight the virus if the CARES ACT deadline is not extended.