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Utah lawmakers approve millions in COVID-19 stimulus funds

Utah Senate President Stuart Adams (R-Layton) calls the special virtual session to order on Thursday. Lawmakers approved millions in federal stimulus funds to help get the state through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Kelli Pierce)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah lawmakers have approved $255 million in federal stimulus money meant to help the state get through the COVID-19 pandemic despite reservations from some on just how the funds will be spent.

The majority of the money will go towards Medicaid and unemployment. However, Utah Senate Budget President Jerry Stevenson (R-Layton) said those are not the only programs being funded by the COVID-19 stimulus.

“Some of those include childcare, homeless services, emergency food, Meals on Wheels, energy assistance, community development and services, public assistance, and election security,” Stevenson said during the special virtual session on Tuesday.

There had been a strong push back from some lawmakers over the state’s plan to spend and house $6 million to stockpile hydroxychloroquine, a potential but unproven treatment for COVID-19.

Stevenson addressed the concerns expressed in the House earlier that day by reading a prepared statement.

“While the funds could be used for drugs like hydroxychloroquine, they could also be used for other potential treatments. As well as not limited to any one particular drug,” Stevenson said.

Although both chambers approved the spending by large majorities, another special session will likely be called soon.

“These funds cannot be used to help balance the previous budgets, so we got some work ahead of us,” Stevenson said.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States