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Legislative Council declines ADH’s requests for COVID-19 relief funds

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FILE – This Jan. 22, 2020, file photo shows the likeness of Benjamin Franklin on $100 bills in Dallas. Many Americans are struggling financially due to the coronavirus. A recent federal relief package makes it easier for them to tap into their retirement savings by loosening rules for withdrawals and loans. But should they? (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

NORTHWEST, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On Friday, The Arkansas Legislative Council declined to suspend its rules to consider the state Department of Health’s request for $7 million more in spending authority to provide federal coronavirus relief funds to the Northwest Arkansas Council’s Health Care Transformation Division for COVID-19 contact tracing and testing for Hispanic and Marshallese populations.

According to Northwest Arkansas Council Communications Director Nate Smith, the Northwest Arkansas Council’s CARES Act proposal was on the supplemental agenda for the Arkansas Legislative Council along with one other item presented by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

He said the members must suspend their meeting rules to allow supplemental (late) items to be presented.

According to Smith, they voted not to suspend the rules so the proposal was not presented and reviewed.

It was not rejected because they did not even review it.

“It is our understanding the proposal will go back before the Arkansas Legislative Council to be considered at a later date to be determined,” Smith said.

The Council’s proposal will provide comprehensive COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and case coordination within the Latinx and Marshallese communities in Northwest Arkansas, along with Independence, Randolph, Sevier and Yell counties, said Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council. “The efforts outlined in the proposal were recommended by the CDC and Arkansas Department of Health. UAMS NW and Community Clinic were asked to coordinate these efforts due to long-standing relationships with leaders and community partners within the Latinx and Marshallese communities of Northwest Arkansas. We are confident that once the Arkansas Legislative Council has an opportunity to review and understand the urgency of the proposal, it will approve these much-needed funds to support the communities most disproportionately affected by the virus.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS COUNCIL

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