CARES Act funds

Weber County and Ogden officials are in the midst of distributing as much as $45 million in CARES Act funds to help business, nonprofits and schools as they weather the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, photo, a sign notifies customers of the temporary closure of a business on 25th Street in Ogden.

OGDEN — More than $25 million in CARES Act money is coursing through Weber County or on its way to aid businesses, schools, hospitals and nonprofits adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s part of the $45 million in all that officials hope to get from the feds by year’s end as part of efforts to counter the economic downturn brought on by COVID-19.

Most recently, Weber County officials announced that around $2 million of CARES Act money would be going to 139 businesses as part of its WeberCARES Grant Program. That’s on top of around $11.3 million distributed in late August by Ogden and Weber County officials to around 550 businesses.

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to help our Weber County businesses,” Weber County Commissioner Gage Froerer said in a statement. Officials “will jump on the opportunity to help even more if additional funding becomes available.”

In fact, additional funds have been available as part of the initiative and the money is making its way to other entities that need it. More is anticipated, helping those hit by the pandemic stay on their feet. “There’s been a lot of disruption because of the COVID and these funds have helped dramatically in stabilizing several organizations,” said Weber County Treasurer John Bond, who’s been key in helping process applications for funds.

The city of Ogden is also administering an initiative to distribute CARES Act funds, the Ogden CARES Business Grant Program. Here’s a rundown of where funds have gone or will be going, aside from the $13.3 million or so earmarked thus far for businesses:

Some $3.5 million will be going to nonprofit organizations around the county. That’s up from the earlier projection of $3 million.

Another $3.8 million from the county’s share of CARES Act money will be going to more Ogden businesses, according to Bond.

Weber County’s two school districts will share $4.6 million in funds, with $2.75 million going to Weber School District and $1.85 million going to the Ogden School District, which is smaller. Among other things, Bond said the money will help schools bolster their online offerings, in increasing demand as some facilities have shifted to virtual learning due to temporary closures brought on by increases in COVID-19 cases.

Two post-secondary facilities will share more than $1 million, with $750,000 going to Weber State University and $420,000 going to Ogden-Weber Technical College.

Several other entities, including Visit Ogden, several charter schools and more will share $180,000. Bond said additional charter and private schools will likely receive funding as well.

Hospitals across Utah are facing increased pressure as the COVID-19 case count rises, and Bond said he’s been talking with reps from Ogden Regional Medical Center in Washington Terrace and McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden about earmarking funds for those facilities. Funds would be meant, in part, to help them deal with a potential uptick in COVID-19 patients.

“We’re working with them on their surge capacity,” Bond said.

The funding with identified recipients totals $26.55 million, with as much as $45 million available, according to Bond. Efforts will likely continue through the end of the year to find other entities in need.

Restrictions on operations of businesses and other entities meant to help stem the spread of COVID-19 have adversely impacted many, here and across the country. At its worst, unemployment in Weber County spiked to 10.7% last April as a result, up from 3.1% in February, before the pandemic. The jobless rate subsequently fell to 5.1% as of July as the economy has improved, but rose to 5.5% for September, the latest data available.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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