Why coronavirus will crush essential services in smaller cities without federal help

Smaller cities and towns face a dire fiscal future because of the coronavirus, and bankruptcy is not the answer.

Why coronavirus will crush essential services in smaller cities without federal help

It was seemingly overnight that the coronavirus outbreak turned our lives upside down. Our main streets were shuttered, schools closed and everything around us came to a screeching halt.

To date, New York has had more than 340,000 cases of COVID-19, the most of any state in the country and more than any other nation in the world. As Americans were called to stay inside, our homes were transformed into offices, schools, movie theaters and playgrounds.

But staying home is not an option for everyone. In the face of an unprecedented enemy, it has been our first responders, local Emergency Management Services, nurses, doctors and all those who help them get to work who have battled COVID-19 on the front lines. These essential workers put their health and safety at risk not only to treat those infected but also to prevent further spread throughout our nation.

And it has come at a steep price.

Our towns, villages and other localities, which support so many of these essential workers and services, have been left to foot the bill. In light of historic budgetary shortfalls and lost revenue caused by COVID-19, they’re facing a dire fiscal future, and bankruptcy is not the answer.

Large cities already received help

The CARES Act, signed into law last month, provided $150 billion in funding for states and local communities, but there’s a catch. The funding only went to government units serving populations of more than 500,000, which left thousands of smaller towns and rural communities across the country without any support.

During our nation’s time of need, essential workers from these localities have provided services day in and day out. Now it’s time to make sure they have what they need to sustain themselves moving forward.

Christine MacNeil puts on supplies she will use to limit her exposure to the coronavirus at her home in Pine Plains, N.Y. on March 18, 2020.  MacNeil is a registered nurse with the Dutchess County Medical Reserve Corps.

That’s why we’ve paired up with our colleagues in the Senate to introduce the Direct Support for Communities Act, the only bipartisan, bicameral solution, that would ensure every county, city, town and village in the country receives the federal funding it needs, regardless of size.

Counties would get half of funding

This legislation, a part of ongoing coronavirus relief negotiations, requires funding for localities be split into two equal pots: one for cities, towns and villages and one for counties. Of the funding allocated for cities, towns and villages, 70% would go to Community Development Block Grant-designated entitlement communities, and the remaining 30% would be allocated across non-CDBG communities based on population. County funding would be allocated based on population unless the county was a CDBG-entitlement community and would receive more funding under the CDBG formula.

Share your coronavirus story: Contact USA TODAY Opinion's hotline. We may publish your comments.

The Direct Support for Communities Act buttresses communities of all sizes’ ability to continue providing essential services from public health to sanitation workers to teachers without going bankrupt and taking our national economy down with it. We must continue working to finish the fight against COVID-19, but we must also ensure that there is a life to return to on the other side.

Congressman Antonio Delgado represents New York’s 19th Congressional District. Congressman Lee Zeldin represents New York’s 1st Congressional District.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/05/14/coronavirus-wreck-small-cities-budgets-without-federal-help-column/5190771002/

News Related

ORTHER NEWS

Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »