$107 million for hospitals, COVID-related needs and gender violence programs
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Wednesday the allocation of $107 million from funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act destined mostly for public and private hospitals and other health centers.
Eligible health care providers can purchase equipment, make temporary improvements and issue payments for assumed risks, among other expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $75 million CARES allocation for hospitals and other eligible health centers would be distributed through the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish initials) through a panel made up of the Department of Health, the Health Insurance Administration of Puerto Rico, the Office of Management and Budget (OGP by its Spanish initials), the island Treasury Department and AAFAF.
The guidelines for requesting funds will be published by the AAFAF in the coming days.
“My government is committed to using all the federal funds that we have received to mitigate the effects of the pandemic in an efficient manner and with the speed it deserves,” the governor said. “Fortunately, our hospitals were able to overcome the spikes of infection, which allowed that, until now, we have not had hospitals that are compromised or in collapse as has happened in other parts of the world. This incentive will help them to be able to offset the expenses and losses they have faced during this health crisis.”
It was also announced that $17 million will be allocated to the Health Department to strengthen access to testing and the COVID-19 contact tracing program in municipalities, as well as necessary expenses related to the pandemic.
Another $13 million will be for the purchase of protective equipment and materials to ensure physical distancing and protection of employees and visitors in government agencies. About $3 million of that sum will be for the Department of Transportation and Public Works.
Meanwhile, Pierluisi allocated $2 million in federal funds to support prevention efforts for victims of gender violence. Of this money, under the custody of the OGP, $1 million will be assigned to the Office of the Women’s Advocate and the other $1 million can be used for any prevention program or campaign determined by the Committee for Gender Violence Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education (PARE by its Spanish acronym).
“This money allocated for a prevention program against gender violence is part of my commitment to address this social evil as a priority, not only declaring a State of Emergency and creating the PARE Committee, but also allocating the necessary resources to establish punctual actions that can provide concrete results for our people,” the governor said.