The advent of the coronavirus outbreak had a grim look behind the scenes for public health and safety officials in Indiana County.
Grocery stores put X’s on the floor to help people socially distance. Hand sanitizer dispensers sprang up in public places.
Meanwhile an inflatable decontamination tent was delivered to the Indiana County coroner’s office for use at potential mass infection sites such as the hospital or nursing homes. The county paid $7,800 for it.
At area convenience stores, Plexiglas shields went up between the cashiers and customers at the cash register counters.
The county Emergency Management Agency, meanwhile, bought and distributed wholesale quantity batches of Clorox disinfectant wipes, 2,000 isolation gowns at $12 each, and 500 Tyvek brand head-to-toe protective suits at $50 each.
Federal officials this week announced that the county would be reimbursed more than $58,000 for its documented expenditures of taxpayer dollars in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. U.S. Attorney Scott Brady said the grant was awarded by the Department of Justice as a public safety measure under the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Trump.
“We are truly appreciative of receiving the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding grant from the Department of Justice, which will be used in purchasing PPE and equipment for use in battling COVID-19,” said Indiana County board of commissioners Chairman Michael Keith, in a news release issued by Brady’s office.
“Funding from the grant will enable the county to replenish these unbudgeted expenses so the county can continue to operate effectively and serve the needs of the community. This grant has made it possible to work within our means of our current budget. The Indiana County Commissioners would like to thank the Department of Justice for awarding this CESF grant.”
The county’s application for the grant requested reimbursement only for supplies and equipment. No claims were made for personnel or consultant costs.
The application shows the supplies were widely distributed:
• Instant foam hand sanitizer and dispensers went to Communities at Indian Haven nursing home, the county Department of Human Services and the coroner’s office.
• ICEMA distributed the gowns and Tyvek suits to Citizens’ Ambulance Service and Lifestat Ambulance, Conewago Rehabilitation Center, Indiana Borough and Blairsville Borough police departments, the Plumville fire department, the county jail, Visiting Nurse Association, Helpmates of Indiana and St. Andrew’s Village nursing home.
• ICEMA used the Clorox wipes for the 911 dispatchers to keep their workspaces clean daily.
In the application for the federal grant, county officials acknowledged donations of disinfectant products from Sam’s Club and Walmart to bolster their stock.
According to the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency has been awarded $17.6 million in grants that can be distributed to eligible governmental agencies throughout Pennsylvania, including western Pennsylvania.
Brady and the U.S. Attorney office staff have worked to direct the cash as needed to agencies throughout the region.
“The men and women on the front line of this pandemic deserve our deepest appreciation for answering the call to serve regardless of the danger,” Brady said.
“The public safety funds being made available to Indiana County through DOJ’s Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program can be used for the most pressing needs of our state and local partners, including new hiring and overtime pay, training, critical personal protective equipment and supplies, and the medical needs of prisoners.”
The Office of Justice Programs, directed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan, provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims and enhance the rule of law by strengthening the criminal and juvenile justice systems.