The City Club of Cleveland held a virtual forum on March 27, at the ideastream studios, with Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. Moderated by the Chief Executive Officer of the City Club, Dan Moulthrop, the hour-long forum focused on several issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is a disaster. It’s tough,” Budish began, noting that the pandemic is having a significant impact on all aspects of county government. He first sought to explain what the county is doing to help small businesses. He mentioned that the county contributed $500,000 towards a collaborative loan fund set up to help small businesses weather the economic storm. The fund currently stands at $3 million. Additionally, the county contributed $1 million to the Greater Cleveland COVID19 Rapid Response Fund which is being managed by the Cleveland Foundation. From a logistics standpoint, the county has activated the Emergency Operation Center, a collaborative facility to bring together leading health care institutions in the county, as well as law enforcement.
This is a disaster. It’s tough.
Most county workers are working from home, Budish said, which is contributing towards difficulties in the management of massive increases in unemployment and authorizations for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). However, the county is working diligently to get people enrolled and supported as soon as possible.
To slow the spread of the pandemic, the county has taken several steps to reduce populations in several facilities. For example, in collaboration with the prosecutor and the sheriff, the county has reduced the current number of occupants in the Cuyahoga County jail, from 2,100 down to 1,100. Some who were previously held at the facility are being monitored via ankle bracelet.
The county has also reduced the number of individuals in homeless facilities.
The county has also reduced the number of individuals in homeless facilities. Budish said that the county reached out to family and caregivers, who could temporarily house individuals who are homeless. As a result, the number of men at the 2100 Lakeside Avenue homeless shelter has dropped from 400 to 240. The number of women in the Norma Herr homeless shelter has also fallen from 180 to 125. Moulthrop noted that the county was already working towards reducing the population and asked if it meant that the county recognized that there were people who were in jail who did not need to be in jail. Budish said that the county worked collaboratively towards reducing the jail population, but that “things have changed” and that the pandemic “sped up the process.”
One-third of the individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus in Cuyahoga County are caregivers.
Budish pointed out that about one-third of the individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus in Cuyahoga County are caregivers, meaning that people who are working on the front lines of the pandemic need supplies to ensure that they stay safe. The county has also placed orders for shipments of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for county personnel, who must still conduct in-person visits for protective services investigations.
It is very important for county citizens to take the census, because it impacts the dissemination of federal dollars in the coming years.
Budish also underscored two very important issues, the census and Issue 33, the Cuyahoga County health and human services levy. Budish explained that it is very important for county citizens to take the census, because it impacts the dissemination of federal dollars in the coming years. Additionally, the health and human services that are funded by the levy play a critical role in assisting county residents who are in need. The pandemic has underscored the importance of having a strong social safety net in place.
The pandemic has underscored the importance of having a strong social safety net in place.
Finally, Budish said that he was encouraged to hear that Keybank announced a moratorium on foreclosures and on evictions. He said that it was important for the county to do what it can to support county residents, but that it was important for all sectors to work together to get through the crisis.