Oak Harbor city government may receive more than $5 million in the next COVID-19 economic relief package, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen told city council members Feb. 16.
Larsen visited Whidbey earlier this month to talk with constituents about their concerns. Besides the city council, he also visited the WhidbeyHealth vaccine clinic.
The city could receive between $4.3-$5.1 million in aid from the economic relief package, Larsen said during the city council meeting.
Island County government could receive $16.6 million, he added.
The bill also requires the Department of the Treasury to allocate payments within 60 days of the stimulus being signed.
He explained that local governments would have “much more flexibility” in how the funds would be spent in comparison to the CARES Act money.
He said he hoped the bill would be passed by the House of Representatives by Feb. 26, go to the Senate, and be given to the president to sign by March 14. The federal pandemic unemployment supplement runs out March 14 and is why lawmakers want to get the new bill passed by that date.
Lawmakers are also working on an economic recovery package, he said.
He reiterated that Island County had been shortchanged on COVID-19 vaccines because national pharmacy chains did not or could not vaccinate elderly residents in rural areas, placing the burden on local pharmacies and WhidbeyHealth.
The federal government would be releasing 13.5 million doses this week, he said.
“So that’s good news but it’s still not enough,” Larsen said.
He offered some optimism, though, reminding council members that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was in front of Federal Food and Drug regulators to consider for emergency use authorization.