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Jones, Sewell urge Ivey to prioritize funding for local governments

With Alabama set to receive $1.78 billion in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL, and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL, addressed a letter to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey Tuesday urging her to prioritize funding for smaller towns and counties as they continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The funding allocated to states and large localities under the [CARES Act] is sorely needed as this public health crisis continues and the economic fallout intensifies,” the letter stated. “It is incumbent on our state to work with the local governments to identify gaps in our public health infrastructure and strategically allocate these funds to address their needs, including the widespread deployment of testing and contact tracing.”

The letter asserts that funding is specifically needed in the state’s “historically underserved and rural communities,” such as those throughout the Black Belt, which “have fewer resources to bolster their public health infrastructure.”

“Stopping the spread of the virus is dependent on our most vulnerable populations having access to the services and information outlined under federal guidance for the fund and our local governments are well positioned to be a key partner in this fight if provided with adequate resources,” the letter said.

Sewell and Jones have both stated that they intend to jockey for additional funding for local governments in future aid packages.

Further, both have continually pushed for the state to expand Medicaid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and have stated their intentions to include a provision in future relief legislation to incentivize Medicaid expansion for the handful of holdout states, including Alabama, that did not expand the program under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).