Federal relief package frees up more funding for S.C.’s vaccine distribution plan

Updated: Dec. 28, 2020 at 10:34 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - President Donald Trump signed a $2.3 trillion comprehensive federal appropriations and COVID-19 relief package on Sunday night.

Within the Consolidated Appropriations Act contains a relief package that will bring $900 billion to Americans to provide new loans to struggling small businesses, unemployment benefits, protection from evictions and more. It also finally includes some substantial COVID-19 vaccine planning and distribution funding that states and jurisdictions have been sorely lacking.

Back in September, the CDC distributed a $200 million grant across states through the CARES Act to help with vaccine preparedness. It dwarfed in comparison to the $6 billion CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield testified to Congress as necessary for a successful rollout of the vaccine.

The CDC followed up with an additional grant of $140 million in mid-December. In total, South Carolina received $4,022,937 for COVID-19 vaccine preparedness through the CARES Act.

But now, this new legislation is providing close to $9 billion to help states and jurisdictions with these expenses.

According to the law, $8.75 billion is being appropriated to the CDC for “activities to plan, prepare for, promote, distribute, administer, monitor, and track coronavirus vaccines to ensure broad-based distribution, access, and vaccine coverage.”

Within these funds, at least $4.5 billion must head to states, localities, territories and tribes.

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The act also states that the CDC’s director must make at least $1 billion of these funds available to those states and jurisdictions within three weeks.

This new funding can be used to pay for a state’s vaccine expenses directly or to reimburse any of those costs incurred before the act was signed into law.

It’s not clear yet how many of these funds will be heading directly to South Carolina as the state forges ahead with the distribution of the vaccine.

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WMBF Investigates is working to find those details on how many federal taxpayer dollars are heading to South Carolina, along with how much money the state has spent so far for COVID-19 vaccine preparation and distribution.

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