‘This pandemic is far from over:’ Dane Co. leaders call for more federal funding amid COVID-19

MADISON, Wis. — Dane County leaders gathered Wednesday to urge the federal government to boost funding for local COVID-19 response efforts.

Since the CARES Act was passed, Dane County officials have used the funding to secure emergency housing and food for people throughout the community and provided aid to struggling local businesses.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said that the current trajectory of the pandemic calls for a boost in federal funding.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic carries on, there will be a continued need for support from the federal government to help our community with testing, eviction prevention, emergency food assistance, and small business funding,” said County Executive Joe Parisi. “This pandemic is far from over, and we need all systems of support working together to address our community’s needs during this unprecedented time.”

Part of Parisi’s call for action includes extending testing at the Alliant Energy Center. As of now, testing at the Alliant Energy Center is scheduled to expire on Aug. 7. More than 70,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 at the community testing site.

Money from the CARES act has been used to fund the Tenant Resource Center’s emergency eviction prevention program, which has received more than 5,000 applications for emergency assistance. Nearly half of the program’s $10 million allotment has been spent already. Because of the high demand, the Tenant Resource Center has to shut down the application process to prioritize households that are at high risk of homelessness.

The Dane County Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program has distributed $8.4 million of the program’s total $10.8 million funding. Several local businesses said they would be out of businesses without the grant program, according to a release. The average businesses has received just over $4,000 to help cover costs in the midst of the pandemic.

Dane County has also provided Second Harvest’s COVID-19 emergency food assistance program with $6 million to distribute emergency meals to those in need. Second Harvest officials are projecting a 61% increase in local food insecurity by the end of August.