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Utah Still Needs To Allocate And Spend $2 Million Of CARES Act Funding Before January

Stock image of a medical worker administering a COVID-19 test through the window of a vehicle
RyanKing999 via iStock
Utah plans to allocate some of its remaining CARES Act money to increasing testing and contact tracing in K-12 schools.

The state of Utah still has to allocate about $2 million of federal coronavirus aid from the CARES Act. An additional $268 million has already been given to various state programs but not spent yet. That money must be spent by the end of the year.

Utah has a plan to distribute that money and the Unified Command set up to address the pandemic expects to vote on it next week, according to Phil Dean, the interim executive director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

Dean said the state is planning to give some of the money to the Utah Housing Assistance Program, which helps low-income people economically impacted by the pandemic pay their rent and utilities. Dean also said they expect to put some of that money toward contact tracing and testing in K-12 schools.

“To me, the biggest piece is testing,” Dean said. “How are we going to deal with testing on an ongoing basis? I think it's critical to the state's response, to the state’s strategy.”

Dean said his office looks over each program's plan to use its CARES Act money by the end of the year to make sure it’s possible. The state recently pulled back about $1.7 million it was planning to spend on personal protective equipment, because Utah has sufficient stockpiles and they wouldn’t be able to spend the money by the end of the year, according to Dean’s office.

Dean said he wishes the federal government would have extended the deadline to spend the aid money.

“For the residential rental assistance programs where you have people that have needs come January, it would be good to be able to kind of move the money between months — use some in December and some in January,” he said.

He is hoping Congress will pass another coronavirus relief fund soon to help out Utah and other states after this first round of money expires.

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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