On March 13, President Trump issued a Proclamation Declaring a National Emergency concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and on March 22 approved California Governor Gavin Newsom’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration.  This action makes federal assistance available to the State for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance.The following provides information on the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic and key federal resources for local governments.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act: H.R. 748

The third COVID-19 stimulus package, CARES Act (H.R. 748), was recently signed into law in response to the ongoing crisis. It commits to $2 trillion in assistance to support hundreds of economic and health-related needs and focuses on the general public, small and medium-sized businesses, and the healthcare industry. The bill does not include recommendations sought by the House related to support for the water and wastewater sector, such as tax credits for payroll taxes and ratepayer assistance. However it is possible these issues can still be addressed in future legislation. CASA has put together a brief summary of the key provisions within H.R. 748 .

As Congress considers its next steps in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic implications, the next phase of assistance is anticipated to contain both technical fixes to earlier legislation as well as a focusing on large-scale infrastructure. On April 6, CASA submitted a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Republic Leader McCarthy containing several specific requests for inclusion in any forthcoming package, including enhanced ratepayer assistance, clarifications on eligibility for special districts and certain tax provisions, and an emphasis on large scale clean water infrastructure funding enhancements.

April 22, 2020: The Treasury just released guidance outlining what the eligible uses are for the Coronavirus Relief Fund.  The guidance is intended to assist states and local governments that receive assistance through the fund.  Along with the guidance, the Treasury also released a short FAQs document about the Fund.  The department is working its way through getting the rest of the money out to states and local governments by the end of this week.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Local Government Point of Contact: Cherie Short (202-893-2941 / cherie.short@hq.dhs.gov)

DHS published a memorandum identifying who are considered to be “essential critical infrastructure workers” and expected to continue to work through the COVID-19 crisis.  Similar to the California Order, it identifies water and wastewater as critical infrastructure and states that employees who are needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure are essential critical workforce. The memorandum is intended to be a guide for states and localities for how to best allocate and prioritize their workforce and resources.

 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that assists states and local governments address emergency needs and provide assistance following disaster events. In response to COVID-19, FEMA stresses that assistance should be “locally executed, state managed and federally supported.” FEMA provides federal assistance to the State of California’s Office of Emergency Services that directs the assistance to eligible applicants, such as counties, state agencies, communities, or eligible nonprofits. Activities that qualify for federal assistance to protect public health and safety include: Emergency Operation Center costs, training, disinfection of eligible public facilities, and law enforcement and security. A complete list of Eligible Emergency Protective Measures, Procurement, and additional FEMA resources can be found under the FEMA’s fact sheet page, here.

 

Federal Reserve Board

Press Release: 6/3/20: The Federal Reserve Board announces an expansion in the number and type of entities eligible to directly use its Municipal Liquidity Facility.

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)

Contact: Britt Carter (202-440-0728 / carter.brittanys@epa.gov)

USEPA is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies to provide technical assistance and support, specific to COVID-19 drinking water and wastewater issues. USPEA has a dedicated page focused on COVID-19 issues, including water and wastewater agency resources.

Press Release on effective disinfectant products to use against Coronavirus
List of COVID-19 Disinfectants

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact: Darcie Johnston (202-690-1058 / darcie.johnston@hhs.gov)

CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services are the key federal entities responsible for providing first responders, healthcare providers, and health systems with appropriate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC has issued 23 guidance documents on infection control, hospital preparedness assessments, personal protective equipment supply planning, and clinical evaluation and management, some of which may be useful for wastewater agencies.

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Contact: Lillie Brady (202-845-3872 / lillie.brady@usda.gov)

USDA and the Food and Drug Administration are important players in responding to the COVID-19 crisis through monitoring the food supply chain, providing certainty for nutrition programs, including SNAP, WIC, and the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

  • USDA’s Rural Development has placed a foreclosure and eviction moratorium on all USDA Single Family Housing Direct loans.

April 13, 2020 Update: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today unveiled a one-stop-shop of federal programs that can be used by rural communities, organizations and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide (PDF, 349 KB) is a first-of-its-kind resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic. USDA has taken many immediate actions to assist farmers, ranchers, producers, rural communities, and rural-based businesses and organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on these actions, visit www.usda.gov/coronavirus.

U.S. Department of Labor

The Department of Labor is playing an important role in addressing issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19. Notably, Labor provides information on family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights.

National Associations – Local Government Resources

Additional Resources