Pedro Pierluisi, Governor of Puerto Rico, commented on Monday on the distribution of funds from the American Recovery Plan Act 2021, in which Puerto Rico will receive in its first stage $520.5 million to put the island on the road to recovery post COVID.
“The government of Puerto Rico is receiving over $2.47 billion to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve the economic recovery we need,” Pierluisi said in a live on Facebook.
In addition to that amount, the municipalities will have $1.55 billion that they can request directly from the U.S. Treasury Department. A total of $94 million was allocated to the University of Puerto Rico. In his remarks, Pierluisi affirmed that the allocation “has the purpose of giving continuity to the services that this institution provides to our university community and to provide services to the citizens.”
There will also be distribution of funds for essential public health employees
In support of the healthcare community and other priority sectors “that were present during the pandemic, that performed essential work to keep the crisis under control, and who continue to work,” Pierluisi also confirmed funding of up to $200 million as $2,000 special pay bonuses.
The payment will go to nursing and law enforcement, such as police, paramedics, firefighters, medical technologists, among others.
Each special payment, according to the requirements of the U.S. Treasury Department, is an additional payment to the professional or employee’s hourly wage.
“Only those professionals and employees who worked on-site during the pandemic will be eligible,” he said.
115 million will go directly in response to the pandemic
Pierluisi assured that $111.5 million will go to continuous response initiatives to Covid-19.
“We will allocate $20 million for the genomic surveillance program of the Puerto Rico Department of Health, which seeks to monitor this COVID-19 virus and identify new strains,” he said.
In addition, $1.5 million from the distribution of funds will be used to create a digital health passport that will be used to identify those vaccinated easily and in a way that ensures data privacy.
However, what left doubts about the distribution of funds was when Pierluisi designated resources for the creation of lotteries and raffles as an incentive for vaccination, which will contain special prizes such as cars.
The Mental Health and Addiction Services Administration will receive $5 million for measuring the effects of the pandemic on people and will allocate $50 million to private hospitals to help them mitigate pandemic losses and $25 million to public hospitals.
Finally, he presented the distribution of $100 million in funds to the Return to Employment program, which will be divided 50/50 for restaurants and bars and the rest for the agricultural sector, as well as offering $15 million for the creation of a program to help non-profit entities.
“This is only the first phase of the strategic allocation of ARPA funds. We will continue working to identify needs and provide the necessary tools to offer real solutions to our people,” Pierluisi concluded.