Vaccination age group expands to 50; hotel employees could be priority

SHOT: Nurse Kathleen Estremadura administers a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot during a village-based outreach event at the Barrigada Senior Citizens Center on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

Some $29.4 million remains of the $118 million in pandemic relief funds that the federal government directly provided to the government of Guam, even as GovGuam awaits $661 million in new direct aid funding.

The Office of Public Accountability reported that GovGuam expended $88.6 million or 75% of the nearly $118 million in coronavirus relief funds as of Dec. 31, 2020.

That's an increase of $15 million from the November spending of $73.6 million, OPA said in its Feb. 25 second flash report on the status of GovGuam's coronavirus relief fund, which is part of the massive 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Local law requires the administration to submit a monthly report of CARES Act funding to the Legislature 20 days after the end of the month.

GovGuam has until Dec. 31 to spend the remaining amount, after the deadline was extended for a year.

A Biden-era pandemic relief package that's now at the Senate after passing the House last week contains $661 million in new coronavirus relief for GovGuam.

The same package provides for earned income tax reimbursement for GovGuam, additional child tax credits, more rental relief funds, extended unemployment aid and an additional $1,400 in economic impact check, among other things.

How the money was used

The funds were used for GovGuam's economic relief programs such as cash assistance to low-income families, aid for small businesses and commercial renters, along with salaries and wages and contractual services.

At least 46 GovGuam agencies spent portions of the 2020 coronavirus relief funds, and here are the ones that spent at least $1 million each.

  • Department of Public Health and Social Services - $20.7 million
  • Guam Economic Development Authority - $19.6 million
  • Office of Guam Homeland Security - $16.2 million
  • Guam Memorial Hospital Authority - $7.3 million
  • Department of Administration - $5.6 million
  • Guam Fire Department - $3.5 million
  • Guam Police Department - $3.3 million
  • Department of Corrections - $2 million
  • Judiciary of Guam - $1.5 million
  • Customs and Quarantine Agency - $1.3 million
  • Department of Revenue and Taxation - $1.2 million
  • Department of Public Works - $1.2 million
  • Guam Department of Education - $1 million

Other agencies or offices spent as little as $117 to $451 of the coronavirus relief fund, the OPA report said.

The coronavirus relief funds to directly aid GovGuam are separate from the funding that individual agencies also received from the CARES Act, totaling more than $1 billion.

These include more than $500 million for the Guam Department of Labor alone for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and related programs, and nearly $50 million for public education agencies.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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