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Monday, June 5, 2023
June 5, 2023

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Clark County Council earmarks $5M in additional virus response funding

By , Columbian county government and small cities reporter

Clark County has earmarked $5 million in general-fund money for its virus response beyond this year.

The Clark County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the funding. It will extend several temporary employee positions, and fund a few additional ones, through May 31.

The council also agreed to sign a new contract with the Public Health Institute. The California nonprofit has performed contact monitoring in Clark County for several months and recently began conducting case investigations.

Due to surging caseloads, Clark County Public Health announced in November that it was changing how it conducts contact tracing. Rather than identifying, notifying and monitoring individual close contacts of confirmed cases, staffers will interview confirmed cases to identify priority locations where exposures might have occurred.

The county originally received $26,857,500 in federal CARES Act funding. After the county applied pressure, it received an additional $19.54 million in CARES Act funding from the state, which is charged with distributing the federal funds to most counties.

In addition to contact tracing and case investigation, which account for most of the expenses, the county has also aimed the funds toward payroll expenses for employees dedicated to virus response, facilitating social distancing protocols at public buildings and among employees and economic support for local businesses.

Federal funding for local virus responses expires at the end of this month.

“Hopefully, Congress will appropriate additional funding, but that hasn’t been the case yet,” county Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick said.

“We are in the throes of the pandemic,” Councilor Gary Medvigy said. “I know it’s been a long slog so far.”

Columbian county government and small cities reporter