The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act provides $55 per capita to local governments to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. For counties with fewer than 500,000 residents, such as Galveston County, the money is given to each city rather than to the county itself.
As such, Galveston County requested each city provide 18% of its CARES Act funding to the Galveston County Health District to continue nasal swab and antibody testing. League City received $5.73 million in CARES Act funding, and the county's request equaled about $1.03 million.
On July 14, the council voted 6-2 against the motion to give the county the money, citing several concerns. Council Member Nick Long said the move would be inequitable to League City residents because most of the money would fund testing for residents other than those residing in League City, and several council members said they had questions for the county that county officials had not yet answered.
On July 21, county officials showed up to answer members questions. Precinct 1 Commissioner Darrell Apffel apologized for not answering questions earlier.
Apffel said the county used its own money to hire epidemiologists and contact tracers at the start of the pandemic and was reimbursed through CARES Act funding. The remaining $2 million in CARES Act funding the county received went entirely to testing, Apffel said.
Now, as testing has begun to ramp up and the pandemic shows no signs of slowing, the county needs more money, he said.
“Quite frankly, we need your money,” he said. “We are in this together.”
Apffel answered members’ questions, saying Galveston County would invoice League City monthly for portions of the up to $1.03 million in CARES Act funding League City would provide. It is possible League City would not have to pay the full $1.03 million if the pandemic ended before the money was spent, he said.
Additionally, the money will go to fund tests for uninsured League City residents only, Apffel said.
“I believe that this is so important that we do this as a community,” he said.
The motion to approve giving Galveston County the money passed 7-1. Council Member Todd Kinsey was the sole dissenting vote.