COVID Relief Funds

What is the impact of losing so many?

As of last week, there have been approximately 1,028,000 COVID deaths in the United States. To offer perspective, that is more people than the entire state populations of Wyoming, Vermont, the District of Columbia, Alaska, both Dakotas, or Delaware. 

Could you imagine the impact if our country essentially lost the entire population of one state?

The significance of this overwhelms me as I hop on a plane to travel and see so many people now operating as though it’s business as usual. I too would love to return to normal, and have even had my fair share of laissez-faire approaches to COVID lately. Although last week I was starkly reminded of the seriousness of the situation when my oldest child was sent home from school, sick with COVID.  

Just over a year ago, the Biden Administration released $2.25 billion to the states to help with COVID health disparities. The funds were routed through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the form of grants to every state, with additional funding to large city and county health agencies. However, as reported last week by Kaiser Health News, only a small percentage of states have even started using their funds.

The information was startling, as the Biden Administration is now asking for additional funding for COVID relief, even as dollars seem to already be sitting dormant at the state level, not in use. Montana so far has spent some of their funds, although they have used slightly less than a quarter of their total eligible dollars. Missouri has not spent any of its $35.6 million. State officials reported that the slow release of funds to health departments, healthcare organizations, and community agencies has been due to administrative hurdles in the process to obtain and designate dollars to the appropriate entities in need. 

So, while state offices and health departments are trying to figure out how to spend their money, the reported cases (which we know are underreported, since home kits have no public reporting mechanism) are up 26 percent nationwide in the last couple of weeks. And about a third of all Americans are now living in an area with medium or high risk rates of COVID. Thank you Omicron and your subvariants! I would urge state agencies, as we continue in the rising tide of COVID and as we head towards the fall cold and flu season, please release the funds – we do not want another variant.  

I ask, are you seeing increases in COVID cases in your area? To look at the survey results of this week, please click here.



Tiffany Ferguson, LMSW, CMAC, ACM

Tiffany Ferguson is CEO of Phoenix Medical Management, Inc., the care management company. Tiffany serves on the ACPA Observation Subcommittee. Tiffany is a contributor to RACmonitor, Case Management Monthly, and commentator for Finally Friday. After practicing as a hospital social worker, she went on to serve as Director of Case Management and quickly assumed responsibilities in system level leadership roles for Health and Care Management and c-level responsibility for a large employed medical group. Tiffany received her MSW at UCLA. She is a licensed social worker, ACM, and CMAC certified.

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