Governor Hutchinson announcing $45 million of COVID-19 fund going towards procurement

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Just last week the General Assembly created the COVID-19 fund to allow the governor to address holes in the budget because of the coronavirus, and he’s putting it to use today.

Today Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that $45 million dollars from that fund will go towards the procurement of more PPE for nurses, doctors, and first responders.

The governor also said the state will be getting $1.2 billion dollars in federal money to help mitigate costs due to COVID-19.

Now Arkansas cannot use this as a budget hole filler, but it must be used for COVID-19 specific items such as, PPE, ventilators, things of that nature and the governor has put together a 15 person steering committee to help recommend how to spend that.

“We have to allocate those funds in advance in order to be able to get in the supply chain and we’re looking at not just what we need tomorrow and 30 days but we have to look at what we need 60 days down the road,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Now they don’t believe they will get all that money at once, but it must be allocated within 30 days and will last until the end of the year.

The State Parks also announced several items. They are closing all visitor centers, bathhouses, museums, lodges, and only limiting campgrounds to RVs. They are moving to a contactless check-in system for campgrounds. They say it’s good to be out, but to just maintain social distancing.

You can read the news release below:

LITTLE ROCK – With the approval of the General Assembly, Governor Asa Hutchinson has allocated an additional $45 million to the $30 million he authorized earlier for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators for health care professionals and first responders as they test and treat patients who have contracted COVID-19, he announced at a news conference today.The $45 million is being allocated from the new COVID-19 Rainy Day Fund, which the state legislature established in the recent extraordinary session of the 92nd General Assembly.The Governor previously authorized the release of $30 million for the purchase of PPE that, combined with the additional $45 million, raises to $75 million the funding for the procurement of PPE. This funding will help Arkansas meet the need for PPE and ensure that Arkansas health care workers have sufficient supply of protective gear. In addition to the procurement of PPE and ventilators, there are additional funds that can be used for a social distancing media initiative. 

“Our health care workers are on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19,” Governor Hutchinson said. “I have no higher priority than ensuring that they have the protection they need as they test and treat Arkansans. This funding will allow Arkansas to better compete in the worldwide marketplace and secure the necessary equipment to keep Arkansans safe.”In a second announcement at today’s news conference, Governor Hutchinson issued an Executive Order that created the Arkansas Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Steering Committee (Arkansas CARES Act Steering Committee).The steering committee is composed of fifteen members appointed by the Governor, six of whom are members of the General Assembly. The committee will identify the needs of the state and make recommendations to the Governor for the best use of the federal CARES Act funding.Read the Executive Order HERE.

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