Gov. Cooper signs two COVID-19 bills providing more than $1.5 billion in relief funding

Gov. Cooper signs two bills for COVID-19 relief in NC

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WECT/WBTV) - The General Assembly has finalized a relief package to address the new coronavirus pandemic in North Carolina, agreeing to send money to schools, hospitals, local governments and researchers.

A pair of bipartisan measures approved unanimously by the House and Senate on Saturday direct how nearly $1.6 billion in federal funds are distributed and how government activities during the outbreak are deferred or delayed.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed the bills into law Monday morning.

“This leadership has come together with consensus to move our state forward and we’re grateful for that,” Cooper said.

He and Republican legislative leaders praised the collaboration in fashioning the measures. The Legislative Building was closed to the public while the General Assembly worked this week.

Cooper said Monday, the approved bill will give $125 million to help small businesses through a loan fund run by the Golden LEAF Foundation and the N.C. Rural Center.

According to the Associated Press, there is:

  • $85 million for five universities for COVID-19 research and treatment
  • $95 million to help rural and teaching hospitals
  • $50 million to purchase personal protective equipment
  • $25 million to expand virus testing and tracing

Cooper also explained the package also allocates funding for:

  • computers for students who need them
  • sustaining the school nutrition programs
  • online summer school programs

Further, the bills delay car inspections and license renewals until August.

North Carolina health officials reported a total of 11,848 cases of coronavirus across 99 counties Monday, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. That’s a rise of 184 cases in one day.

Avery County is now the only county in the state without a positive case.

Eight additional deaths were also reported across the state, bringing the total to 430.

On Friday, health officials announced they will be releasing lab-confirmed data based on zip codes throughout North Carolina.

On Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper and health officials said that although the overall picture with trends is “mixed,” they feel confident N.C. will be moving into the first phase of reopening plans by May 8, when the state’s Stay at Home Order expires.

During Phase One, parks can reopen, outdoor exercise is encouraged, and face masks are still recommended when social distancing is not possible.

NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen went into detail about the metrics and where the state stands as of April 30:

NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen addresses current NC COVID-19 trends

Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. WECT and WBTV contributed to this report.