Puerto Rico and the COVID-19 emergency
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every family, every business, and every government agency around the United States. The U.S. Government and the Puerto Rico Government did respond forcefully to support those who fight COVID-19 at the frontlines, and those who are affected by the emergency measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Oversight Board and the Government quickly agreed on the $787 million Emergency Measures Support Package to support those fighting the virus on the front line and help those most affected by the economic shut-down.
The measures included:
- $237 million in one-time bonuses for public and private nurses, technicians, EMS personnel, correction officers, and other DPS staff in the front lines of the fight against COVID-19
- $50 million for investments in hospitals and public safety, to restock medical supplies and invest in equipment for a period of at least two months
- $160 million in one-time direct payments to self-employed individuals and small businesses whose incomes have been affected by the disruption of their work and income
- $240 million for the Department of Education to support and enable online learning while schools are closed, to buy tablets for every student and teacher, and provide teachers and students with software and training
- $100 million for municipalities, providing support for lost revenues over the next two months because of the emergency measures implemented to fight COVID-19.
That Emergency Measures Support Package was in addition to $160 million in funding made available from the Emergency Reserve Fund that the Fiscal Plan for Puerto Rico established. The Emergency Reserve Fund has strict rules that ensure the Government can use the funds only for emergencies, not for other government expenses. The Emergency Reserve provided food and shelter after the earthquakes, funded the temporary relocation of schools during the pandemic, provided vital support to municipalities, and funded many other measures to help the people of Puerto Rico in times of crisis.
The Oversight Board continues to work with the Government in the interest of the people of Puerto Rico.