The Washington State Department of Commerce announced local governments will soon receive their portion of nearly $300 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funds awarded to the state to address COVID-19-related costs. The funds are flexible, allowing cities and counties to use their allocation for everything from public health and human services expenses to small business and economic support.

“Cities and counties are the places we live –and they are the governments closest to the people. They are taking extraordinary measures to protect their residents during the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to provide the basic services we all rely on,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Commerce is committed to moving these critical dollars as quickly as possible so communities can plan and prepare for safe reopening and recovery.”

Municipalities were allocated funding based on population, COVID-19 impact and other factors. See the CARES Act individual allocations here.

Commerce is now in the process of contracting with local governments to receive the funds. Funds may be used for costs incurred by the local government in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency during the period Mar. 1 thru Oct. 31, 2020. Allowable expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Medical and public health expenses.
  • Payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the emergency.
  • Expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with public health measures.
  • Expenses associated with the provision of economic support in connection with the emergency.
  • Any other COVID-19-related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria.

A frequently-asked-questions document is available here. More information on CARES Act funds in Washington state is on the Commerce website.