EASTON, Pa. - Northampton County will distribute $1.2 million of its federal COVID-19 relief money to three organizations that work with small businesses, and another $2.5 million to itself.
County council on Thursday approved County Executive Lamont McClure Jr.’s plan to give $500,000 to the Lehigh University Small Business Development Center; $505,000 to Ben Franklin Technology Partners; and $200,000 to Northampton Community College for its COVID-19 risk-management and business-recovery program.
The county will use its portion as reimbursement for $621,485 in hazard pay for employees, including those at the Gracedale Nursing Home and at the county prison, who risked contracting COVID-19 on the job.
The other $1.88 million will pay for information technology that supported county employees who worked from home.
Northampton County received $27.6 million in federal CARES Act pandemic funding, and has $2 million to $3 million left, McClure told council at its meeting Thursday.
At least some of that will go to local governments that did not receive CARES Act money earlier.
“There will be another round (of grants) for our municipalities,” McClure said, in response to a question from Councilman Kevin Lott.
McClure added that a total of $8.5 million in CARES Act grants have been sent to 651 small businesses “in all corners of Northampton County.” Those grants and a first round of municipal payments were disclosed at earlier council meetings.
In other business, McClure said that in-person visits may resume as soon as next week at Gracedale, the county home in Upper Nazareth Township.
“We know how hard it is on the families and the residents” for visits to be barred because of the pandemic, but he said that as of now, coronavirus cases at Gracedale have dropped to zero.
McClure also told council that he voted Thursday. The county is providing “ballot-on-demand” voting.
Registered voters who have not requested mail-in ballots may vote at the elections office in the government center from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week starting Oct. 1. Saturday voting hours of 8 a.m. to noon will start Oct. 3.
“If you don’t want to stand in a long line on Election Day, come in and vote,” he said.
Mail-in ballots will be sent to voters who requested them next week, McClure said.