Special to the
Opelika Observer

Overview: Response and recovery efforts are locally executed, state managed and federally supported. Successful emergency management requires nationwide cooperation and unity of effort, combining the strength and ingenuity of our citizens and private sector with a sweeping, all-inclusive and whole-of-government response.
Below is a partial overview of federal assistance provided to the state of Alabama and the people of Alabama to combat the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The information is bolstered by hundreds of additional actions by the Federal government to help the people of Alabama. Implementation of the CARES Act is ongoing and will also bring additional support to Alabama. President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have appreciated the strong state-federal partnership with Gov. Kay Ivey.
Supportive Actions by President Donald J. Trump:
-President Trump declares a National Emergency: On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency concerning COVID-19. The emergency declaration authorized direct Federal assistance, temporary facilities, commodities, equipment, and emergency operation costs for all States, including Alabama, pursuant to section 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
-Alabama’s major disaster declaration: On March 26, Governor Ivey submitted a major disaster declaration request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On March 29, President Trump approved the request declaring a major disaster in the State of Alabama and ordered Federal assistance to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts in areas affected by COVID-19. For the first time in our nation’s history, every state and territory has a presidential disaster declaration at the same time.
-Historic economic relief: On April 24, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act into law. The law provides further unprecedented economic relief to American citizens, small businesses, workers, healthcare providers, and State, local, and tribal governments and builds on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriation. Additional Alabama allocation information is found below.

  • National Guard support:
    On April 20, President Trump directed FEMA to fund 100% of the emergency assistance activities provided by Alabama National Guard personnel in Title 32 duty status, per Governor Ivey’s request.
    Testing, resource and logistics support: FEMA is working with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), other federal agencies and private sector partners to produce, allocate and distribute key resources to Alabama. Most notably, these include personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies, ventilators and the expedition of critical supplies from overseas to various U.S. locations.
    -HHS, the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are providing unprecedented regulatory flexibilities, resources and guidance to expand the availability of testing and to assist Alabama and States across the country in scaling testing. In addition, the CARES Act and other supplemental disbursements, alongside FEMA resources, are important avenues for states to scale testing.
    -The federal government is supporting mobile testing efforts to increase testing capacity and availability in Alabama.
    -In support of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, FEMA and HHS are coordinating a whole-of-America approachto source PPE, ventilators, testing supplies and other critical resources for states, tribes and Territories. The effort is led by Rear Admiral John Polowczyk of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
    -The Trump Administration is coordinating Project Air Bridge, a coordinated public-private partnership designed to expedite the movement of critical supplies from other countries to the United States. The below statistics show recently delivered supplies to Alabama entities, including Project Air Bridge efforts to bolster private sector supply chains.
    4/18 – 4/24
    Total (YTD)
    N-95 Masks
    Surgical & Procedural Masks
    Eye & Face Shields
    Isolation & Surgical Gowns
    Surgical & Exam Gloves
  • In addition to the Project Air Bridge efforts, as of April 27, FEMA delivered 152,412 N-95 masks, 362,580 surgical masks, 59,699 medical gowns, 1,939 coveralls, 72,922 face shield and 305,359 gloves from the Strategic National Stockpile to Alabama.
  • As of April 27, FEMA obligated $18.7 million for COVID-19 response efforts in Alabama and will continue to obligate additional dollars per validated state requests.
    Federal agency support:
    The Trump Administration continues to provide unprecedented resources, guidance, and regulatory flexibilities for state, local and tribal governments to develop and deploy innovative solutions for addressing COVID-19.
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)
    ·As of April 27, through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act and the CARES Act, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided more than $17.2 million to Alabama.
    ·As of April 27, HHS has awarded more than $18.3 million in CARES Act funding to 17 health centers across Alabama to assist in combatting COVID-19.
    ·Medical providers in Alabama were allocated more than $449.4 M for the first round of funding from the Provider Relief Fund, with most of that provided on April 10.
    ·As of April 27, Alabama has received more than $566.2 M from HHS through the Provider Relief Fund, CDC State and local funding, HRSA health centers, and other HHS grants.
    · As of April 15, the Indian Health Service (IHS) has distributed $622,000 in COVID-19 supplemental appropriations to the State of Alabama, benefiting IHS and Tribal Health Programs within the State. IHS has been given priority access to rapid point-of-care COVID-19 test systems as part of White House efforts to expand access to testing in rural communities.
    ·On April 22, the Alabama Department of Public Health was awarded more than $3.4 million to support small rural hospitals and promote telehealth in rural communities.
    ·On March 18, the State of Alabama submitted an 1135 Medicaid Waiver request to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS). On March 23, CMS approved Alabama’s waiver request offering new flexibilities to focus resources on combatting the outbreak and providing the best possible care to Medicaid beneficiaries in Alabama.
    ·HHS, CMS and FDA have issued guidance on several topics to help inform decisions made by State and local health officials and private sector partners, including operational guidance for Alabama nursing homes, telemedicine, elective surgery and insurers.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
    ·As a result of the CARES Act, the SBA created four additional loan/funding programs to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. As of April 27, the SBA issued more than $4.8 billion in loans to over 27,000 Alabama small businesses. Nationally, SBA executed more loans in 14 days of the CARES Act implementation than the agency had done in the previous 14 years.
    ·On March 20, SBA declared an economic disaster in Alabama at the request of Governor Ivey. The disaster declaration creates access to low interest loans for small businesses across Alabama. As of April 27, the SBA has approved 14,433 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advances of up to $10,000 for Alabama small businesses impacted by COVID-19; these funds, as authorized by the CARES Act, do not need to be repaid and have totaled more than $59.1 million in Alabama.
    ·U.S. Department of the Treasury (USDT)
    ·As of April 17, the Internal Revenue Service has issued over 1.3 M Economic Impact Payments (EIP) totaling more than $2.4 B to eligible individuals in Alabama. The IRS has issued 88.1 million payments to taxpayers across the nation. Authorized under the CARES Act, EIPs are being automatically issued to eligible 2019 or 2018 Federal tax return filers who received a refund using direct deposit. Social Security recipients who do not file tax returns will automatically receive economic impact payments.
    ·Treasury is operationalizing stimulus relief to States, Tribes, and eligible units of local government as authorized under the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. The state of Alabama, combined with eligible units of local government in the state that apply, will receive more than $1.9 billion. As of April 22, governmental entities in the State of Alabama have already received more than $1 billion of this allocation.
    ·On April 9, the Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve launched a Main Street Business Lending program and a Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) to support the flow of credit to American workers, businesses, States, counties, and cities in Alabama and across the Nation impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MLF will provide up to $500 billion, half a trillion, in direct financing to states, counties and cities across the nation to help ensure they have the funds necessary to provide essential services to citizens and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    ·U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
    ·HUD made more than $41.4 million in COVID-19 funding available to Alabama grantees via CARES Act authorizations.
    ·On April 1, HUD implemented the CARES Act requirement to provide up to one year of payment forbearance for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) single-family borrowers in Alabama and across the Nation who are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19.
    ·On April 10, HUD implemented the CARES Act requirement to provide FHA multifamily borrowers in Alabama and across the Nation with forbearance for up to three months if they agree not to evict tenants during that period.
    ·U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
    ·As a result of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, DOL expanded paid sick, family and medical leave; the department has offered flexibilities and emergency administrative capacity expansion grants for unemployment insurance that will help the people of Alabama.
    ·DOL has awarded more than $12.6 million in emergency administrative unemployment insurance grants and $1.9 million in dislocated worker grants to Alabama.
    -U.S. Department of Education (DoED)
    On March 20, DoED suspended federal student loan payments and waived interest during the federal emergency, which could help up to 599,700 direct loan borrowers in Alabama.
    ·DoED has also provided unprecedented reporting flexibilities to Alabama to allow the State to best meet the needs of students and teachers during the emergency.
    ·In April, DoED announced allocations under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund of the CARES Act totaling over $199.1 million to support postsecondary education students and institutions of higher education in Alabama.
    ·On April 14, DoED announced an allocation in the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEERF), authorized by the CARES Act, of more than $48.8 million for Alabama. This is an extraordinarily flexible “emergency block grant” designed to enable governors to decide how best to meet the needs of students, schools (including charter schools and non-public schools), postsecondary institutions, and other education-related organizations.
    ·On April 23, DoED made $216.9 million available to Alabama through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund of the CARES Act to ensure learning continues for all students.
    ·U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    ·On April 17, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue joined President Trump in announcing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to assist farmers, ranchers and consumers in Alabama and across the nation in response to COVID-19. This $19 billion relief program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers and $3 billion in purchases of fresh produce, dairy and meat, including producers in Alabama.
    ·On April 22, USDA approved Alabama as the seventh state to operate the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT), a new program authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Act (FFCRA), which provides assistance to families of children eligible for free or reduced-price meals dealing with school closures.
    ·USDA has provided numerous flexibilities and resources to the State of Alabama to ensure children and low income Americans have access to food during the national emergency.
    ·USDA published a COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide for rural residents, businesses, and communities in Alabama and across the country to find information about federal funding and partnership opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    ·U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
    ·DOT allocated more than $131.2 million in Federal Transit Administration funds to help the Alabama public transportation systems respond to the challenges of COVID-19.
    ·DOT awarded more than $53.9 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to help fund continuing operations and lost revenue for airports in Alabama.
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
    With the $19.6 billion allocated under the CARES Act, the VA is hiring new staff and procuring additional resources to deal with the evolving needs of the pandemic. This includes expanding free or subsidized telehealth services and waiving a requirement that VA State homes maintain a 90% occupancy rate in order to receive federal benefits for times when the veteran is not in the home.
    ·The VA traditionally provides Veterans’ healthcare, benefits and memorial affairs. In times of national crisis, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, VA provides services to the nation based on requests from States, while being clear that veterans are our first priority. This is known as VA’s Fourth Mission. The VA is providing staffing assistance and consulting services to veterans homes in Alabama.
    ·The U.S. Department of the Treasury and VA announced that VA benefit recipients in Alabama and across the Nation will automatically receive $1,200 in Economic Impact Payments provided for under the CARES Act.
    ·On April 3, the VA announced a number of actions to provide veterans in Alabama and across the nation with financial, benefits and claims help as part of the VA’s COVID-19 response. The financial relief actions include – until further notice – (I) suspending all actions on Veteran debts under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department and (II) suspending collection action or extending repayment terms on preexisting VA debts, as the veteran prefers.
  • U.S. Department of State (DOS)
    · The State Department launched an unprecedented global effort to bring home citizens from every corner of the globe and has repatriated thousands of Americans from multiple countries. As of April 17, DOS has coordinated the repatriation of nearly 70,000 Americans, including individuals from Alabama.
  • U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
    ·DOJ allocated more than $14.4 million in funds to Alabama through the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program to assist the State and local government response to COVID-19. This includes more than $9.6 million in funding to the state and more than $4.8 million to local governments.