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Benton County Quorum Court OKs money for vaccine events

by Mike Jones | March 19, 2021 at 7:02 a.m.

BENTONVILLE -- The Quorum Court on Thursday night voted to set aside $100,000 in CARES Act money to help with upcoming county covid-19 vaccination events.

The goal is to provide 10,000 doses over a 13-week period starting in April, said Michael Waddle, county Director of Emergency Management. Collier Drug Store will provide the vaccines. The county received $3.79 million in CARES money last year.

Waddle's presentation to the justices of the peace showed the county using an estimated $58,000 for things such as facilities, nursing staff, non-technical staff, material and bi-lingual advertising.

The plan would help address covid fatigue in the volunteer pool by establishing paid positions, according to Waddle's presentation.

The county plans to use the County Fairgrounds Auditorium as a walk-in vaccination site most likely on Wednesday with day and evening options, Waddle said.

Justice of the Peace Susan Anglin said she supports using the money for vaccination clinics.

"To me, this is a perfect use of funds we have been provided and is an obvious need at this point in time of the pandemic," she said.

Finance Committee Chairman Tom Allen said it is good expense for the county and residents.

"It is directly related to covid-19 and this will help get more Benton County residents access to the vaccine in a more timely manner," Allen said.

The county started to give vaccinations Feb. 27 by giving 1,000 doses at the Northeast Benton County Fire Department in Garfield, Waddle said

The county followed that up this month with 500 doses at Decatur on March 4, 1,000 doses in Rogers on March 11, 200 doses at the Benton County Administration Building on March 12, and 1,000 doses in Siloam Springs on Tuesday. Plans call for 800 doses in Lowell on March 30, according to County Judge Barry Moehring's report at the meeting.

The county is using the two-shot method. Waddle said. Shots given so far were the first dose, he said.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was enacted March 27, 2020. There was $150 billion for states, local governments, tribes and territories to respond to, prevent and prepare for covid-19, according to a presentation Moehring made to the Finance Committee earlier this month.

Items eligible for reimbursement include medical-care expenses, payroll and benefits for public employees, public health and infection control measures, compliance with public health orders and economic recovery, according to Moehring's presentation.

A subcommittee made up of seven justices of the peace will review how the county CARES Act money could be spent. The first meeting would be held at 5 p.m. before the April 6 Finance Committee meeting.

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