Meeting for their first regular session in almost a month today, Bexar County Commissioners will be focused on the local response to COVID-19, from efforts to contain an outbreak of the deadly disease at the jail to action to secure federal funds for mitigating expenses related to fighting the virus.
As of Monday, 28 Bexar County jail inmates and 30 employees have tested positive for novel coronavirus, officials said.
Commissioners are expected to consider actions positioning the county to receive federal support through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES.
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Matthew Chase, CEO and executive director of the National Association of Counties, told reporters in a conference call last week that counties are playing a key role in local responses to the pandemic and will be crucial in the long-term economic recovery.
While the Federal Reserve has taken steps to help counties reduce borrowing costs, concerns linger about aid at the local level for hospitals, food safety, elections and other basic services affected by the pandemic, Chase said.
“We do have really increasing costs, both on the immediate public health response, but also those counties that provide human services and assistance to the 16 million Americans who are now unemployed and their families,” he said. “Counties are essential in the front line.”
Commissioners have set aside at least one hour today to discuss the COVID-19 public health response; efforts to contain the disease at the jail; plans for the July 14 primary runoffs and Nov. 3 combined local and general elections; agreements with the city of San Antonio on emergency housing assistance; and the formation of local COVID-19 community action groups.
Also on the agenda for discussion and action are certifications affirming the county’s intent to receive two forms of CARES funding: fiscal 2020 supplemental appropriations from a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund, to cover costs incurred from March 1 and through Dec. 30; and aid administered through the Texas Division of Emergency Management from a $45 billion disaster relief fund.
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Today’s meeting, set for 10 a.m. in the Double-Height Courtroom of the Bexar County Courthouse, will be live streamed on the county’s website, bexar.org.
Citizens can address commissioners in person so long as they follow the emergency order restrictions, including maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet from others and wearing a mask or some type of cloth such as a bandanna or handkerchief covering nose and mouth.
The last time commissioners met was March 24. That day, only 69 people had tested positive for COVID-19 and two deaths had been reported in the entire county. Less than four weeks later, the total number of confirmed cases stood at 1,015, and 39 people had died as a result of the disease.
Scott Huddleston covers Bexar County government and the Alamo for the San Antonio Express-News. To read more from Scott, become a subscriber. email@example.com | Twitter: @shuddlestonSA