LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Lee County extends Lee CARES to non-profit agencies, municipalities; new round planned

September 4, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

To the Editor:
The Lee Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve two new LeeCARES programs to help Lee County non-profit human service agencies and municipal governments address unanticipated programmatic and operational expenses incurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new grant program for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) human service agencies will provide up to $50,000 of one-time grant assistance for expenses incurred in the agencies’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible agencies may also apply for grants for planned response actions.
Eligible expenses may include program enhancements to address increased service needs from county residents due to COVID-19 including legal services, temporary shelter and computer and technology equipment. Eligible expenses may also include the purchase and/or reimbursement of personal protective equipment, personnel costs, facility retrofit expenditures and other unanticipated administrative expenses directly related to COVID-19.
The total amount of available funding is $10 million. The grant program would tentatively target a launch date of Sept. 21.
For Lee County’s six municipal governments, the Board approved allocating $5.5 million for cities’ necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID–19 public health emergency. The county will divide funds among the municipalities according to population.
In addition, another round of distribution of Personal Protective Equipment is planned for businesses and residents. The business distribution sites already scheduled are:
• Sept. 15 to 18 at Veterans Park, 55 Homestead Road South in Lehigh Acres
• Sept. 22 to 24 at North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 North Recreation Park Way
• Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 at Estero Recreation Center, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd.
Distribution sites for the general public will be announced later this month. More details on both types of distribution will be posted soon at LeeCARES.com and on Facebook at Lee County Government.
The current LeeCARES Business Rehire and Individual/Family Assistance programs will close on Sept. 18.
The LeeCARES programs are funded through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund through the $150 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). Lee County received $134,459,744.
The funding includes:
• $45 million to Human Services programs including the Individual Assistance Program.
• $25 million to Business Relaunch and Rehire programs and PPE.
• $23,950,000 for Public Safety and Medial expenses, including contact tracing, EMS transport, quarantine housing, etc.
• $20 million for Governmental COVID-19 direct expenses for Lee County and Constitutional Offices, including PPE, facility safety, public education and messaging, data collection, elections, telework, etc.
• $20.5 million for general reserves for COVID-19 costs.
A transparency dashboard that shows assistance statistics is available at LeeFLcares.com/transparency.
Visit LeeFLcares.com for additional information about all available programs.
Application instructions also are available in Spanish by calling (239) 533-2273 (or 239-LEE-CARES); applicants without internet access can also call the number. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Updates about the county’s response to coronavirus can be found at leegov.com/COVID-19.
Betsy Clayton
Lee County Communications Director
Fort Myers