Kenney asks City Council for $85 million for COVID-19

Mayor Jim Kenney.
Charles Mostoller

Mayor Jim Kenney has asked Philadelphia City Council for $85 million to help assist with coronavirus relief.

CBS reports that if the money is approved, it would come from the fund balance.

News of this comes as lawmakers just introduced two resolutions to help the public with tackling COVID-19.

Kenney spokesperson Mike Dunn told Inquirer.com that, “This is being done out of an abundance of caution, given the uncertainties the City faces as a result of COVID-19.”

Dunn added, “This request does not mean we are certain to spend the funds. Rather, having these funds at the ready will allow the Managing Director to quickly access additional services as conditions warrant.”

CBS reports that Councilmember Helen Gym has called on other officials such as the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office to explore moratoriums, which are defined as “temporary suspension of an activity or a law,” according to investopia.com.

The councilmembers would like to see this explored when it comes to tax liens, utility shutoffs, residential foreclosures and evictions.

Whereas Councilmember Kendra Brooks plan calls on the city to create an action plan to protect service and healthcare workers. It was reported that this includes an extension on paid sick days and paid time off benefits.

City Council President Darrell Clarke told CBS that, “We’re going to reduce potential exposure. We ask you please, not panic, but it’s important for us to be cautious and follow the science and recommendations.”

This large and yet entirely reasonable request goes a long way in illuminating how underprepared and unrealistic President Donald Trump’s plans to combat the virus have been—despite his protestations to the contrary and this week’s European travel ban, which many see as too little, too late.

On a national level, as recently as Feb. 24, Trump requested Congress for a paltry $2.5 billion for an Emergency Coronavirus Fund to help fight COVID-19. Upon announcement, Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), criticized this figure as woefully inadequate. This left the Department of Health and Human Services to scramble for the transfer of $130 million from unused HHS accounts and $535 million in untouched funds for Ebola.

According to reporting by The Hill, on March 6, Trump upped his emergency funding request, to be allocated to the CDC, to $8.3 billion to increase test rapidity, support vaccine development measures and provide much needed medical supplies, reports The New York Times.

Although these funding requests are moving in the right direction, if the city of Philadelphia’s request is a gauge of funding necessity, it seems a lot more needs to be done—particularly with a mind to the long-term, as the coronavirus threat looms larger on a daily basis.

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