Clay County authorizes nearly $10 million in CARES Act funding

County expects to families, businesses to be able to apply for grants next month

Clay County Emergency Management Director John Ward
Clay County Emergency Management Director John Ward (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Clay County has received and approved its first block of the national CARES Act financial relief package and said on Wednesday that families and businesses will soon be able to apply for grants to receive some of that funding.

That was one of several topics addressed by the county as renewed attention on the state continues after surging cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday morning, Clay had 523 cases of COVID-19 since testing began.

Heather Huffman, the Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Clay County, said that the data suggests one out of three people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic. She also reassured county residents that there are enough beds available in the three local medical facilities if patients require inpatient services.

The good news from Clay is that financial help is on the way.

Information services director Troy Nagle said that the county authorized the first 25% of the funds — roughly $9.5 million — during a county commissioners meeting on Tuesday night.

“The county is waiting for guidance on the remainder of that money from the state, which is $28.7 [million] in funding. This funding has to be used for COVID-related expenses,” he said.

“The Clay CARES team has developed a plan that focuses on three key areas for the county. The first is improving the facilities for staff and the citizens; increasing our public safety and health department resources; and the last is providing for our families, our businesses and our nonprofit groups. We are developing programs that will be rolled out in late July to allow for qualified families and businesses to apply for grants from the county.”

Among other topics covered on Wednesday:

• Wearing of masks is strongly encouraged but not mandatory, said Howard Wanamaker, Clay County manager.

“In the county, the stance has been, we highly recommend the wearing of masks, right. It’s just difficult to enforce,” he said.

• Huffman said the data suggests that one-third of COVID-19 patients have no symptoms.

“The growing evidence continues related to the asymptomatic transmission of this disease. We do believe one in three, a third of them, are asymptomatic individuals. So they are healthy, normal individuals walking around according to them. However, they do have COVID,” she said.

• Clay County schools remain working on a return to school plan, but that has not been finalized yet.

• The county feeding distribution sites that have helped serve a staggering amount of residents during the pandemic are closing at the end of the week. The three wings of the feeding chain — the county sites, school and at senior centers — fed a total of 874,809, said John Ward, Clay’s emergency management director.

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