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The cost of managing COVID-19 in Colorado

The state has spent nearly $90 million on its emergency COVID-19 response as of early May, and the coronavirus isn't the only emergency it needs to budget for.

DENVER — The state of Colorado has spent nearly $90 million on emergency COVID-19 response.

One of the state's deputy budget directors presented the spending breakdown to the legislative Joint Budget Committee on Monday afternoon.

There are three pots of funds the state is using to pay for COVID-19:

  • Disaster Emergency Fund
  • CARES Act
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

The state has authorized $92 million to be spent from the Disaster Emergency Fund.

So far, $88.5 million has been used:

  • $50.8 million by the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security Emergency Management. This money has been spent on personal protective equipment (PPE), contracts for medical personnel (nurses) and interpreters for news conferences.
  • $26.8 million by the Department of Personnel and Administration for alternative care site leases and renovations, including field hospitals.
  • $7 million by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for testing resources, lab equipment, personnel and medical devices
  • $3 million by the Department of Labor Affairs to provide non-profit grant funding for emergency rent and mortgage assistance
  • $812,000 by the Department of Labor and Employment for increased staffing to support unemployment claims.

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The state should get 75% reimbursed back from FEMA. However, deputy budget director Aaron Ray told the Joint Budget Committee it's usually less.

"FEMA public assistance is being reimbursed on a 75% to 25% federal-state match. Our historical reimbursement rate has been more like 51%. The reason for that difference is in any given emergency, some state expenses are ultimately determined by FEMA to be not eligible for reimbursement," said Ray. "Our Department of Public Safety, which has tremendous expertise in this area, has been working very closely with our other departments to ensure we are keeping appropriate records and allocating funds to things that we expect to see reimbursement for."

The state projects to receive $45 million in reimbursement from FEMA.

FEMA is also obligating funding, meaning agreeing to fund expenses from COVID-19.

Colorado has received $28.6 million in obligations from FEMA for auxiliary medial space leases, PPE, medical staff and medical equipment.

Colorado is also receiving $2 billion from the CARES Act passed by Congress. Not all of that money is necessarily for state needs alone.

The biggest single chunk of that money, so far, has been spent by the Colorado Department of Human Services -- $42 million is being used to fund a grant for child care for emergency workers.

When looking at the state's emergency fund as a whole, it has $101 million in it, but the governor's budget team believes that by the end of June 2021, when accounting for COVID-19 and other disasters, it will only have $11.3 million remaining.

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