Where the Helicopter Money Is Landing

What has the federal government done to help Virginia cope with the COVID-19 crisis? The following data comes from the White House. Clearly, the decision to compile and disseminate the information was political. But the data speaks for itself. 

  • The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has obligated $200.2 million or Virginia to respond to COVID-19
  • FEMA has delivered the following from the Strategic National Stockpile to Virginia:
    • 214,389 N-95 masks
    • 510,222 surgical masks
    • 82,621 medical gowns
    • 2,056 coveralls
    • 101,035 face shields
    • 386,975 gloves
  • Health and Human Services has awarded over $21.29 million in CARES Act funding to 26 health centers across Virginia to assist in combating COVID-19
  • The Commonwealth of Virginia has received a total of $931.4 million from HHS.
  • The Small Business Administration issued over $8.7 billion in loans to over 40,300 Virginia small businesses
  • Housing and Urban Development made over $52,639,529 in COVID-19 funding available to Virginia via CARES Act authorizations
  • The Department of Transportation allocated more than $456.3 million in Federal Transit Administration funds to help the Virginia public transportation systems respond to the challenges of COVID-19

Let me be 100% clear: I am not defending (or criticizing) the White House’s approach to the COVID-19 crisis. (I’m not a big fan of helicoptering money, much of which predictably will be poorly spent.) I provide this information to add context to how well Virginia’s political leadership is dealing with the epidemic. In any public health crisis, a large share of the state’s resources comes from the federal government.

As an aside, Michael Martz with the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the federal government has actually deposited $1.65 billion in relief funds into Virginia’s bank account so far, but adds that much of the money comes with strings attached. He writes: “The money is spent only on specific purposes, such as expenses for medical care, public health and a range of government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.” It cannot be used in any way state officials desire.