Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic quickly became the Board's primary focus during 2020. Throughout the year, the Board allocated funding for grant programs, spearheaded new initiatives, adjusted operations to ensure virtual access to meetings and found new ways to reach constituents.
2020 COVID-19 Relief Funds at Work in Our Community
When the COVID-19 pandemic first began impacting the residents and businesses of Oakland County, the Board of Commissioners was poised to lead the state in its response. The Board played a critical role throughout 2020 as it allocated and approved funds to be used for coronavirus relief efforts. These decisions helped award grants directly to small businesses, communities, families and individuals throughout the county.
In our community, that included:
- $3 million for small businesses in Auburn Hills
- $1.7 million for small businesses in Independence Township
- $281,300 for small businesses in Lake Angelus
- $550,000 for small businesses in Lake Orion
- $1.4 million for small businesses in Orion Township
- $3.3 million for communities, families and individuals in Auburn Hills
- $2.2 million for communities, families and individuals in Independence Township
- $7,700 for communities, families and individuals in Lake Angelus
- $1.2 million for communities, families and individuals in Lake Orion
- $1 million for communities, families and individuals in Orion Township
In our district, more than $6.9 million was dedicated to small businesses, which includes retail stores, restaurants, personal and professional services, contractors, salons and fitness centers. These grants supported businesses with unexpected costs, encouraged manufacturers to produce supplies necessary to aiding in keeping people safe, helped organizations reopen, allowed local chambers of commerce help participants address business interruptions caused by COVID-19 and much more.
More than $7.7 million was awarded directly to our district's local governments, educational institutions, non-profits, seniors, individuals, veterans, and libraries and community centers. With these funds, cultural institutions implemented safety procedures for visitors and employees; organizations reached vulnerable seniors with groceries and social connection; veterans and other individuals received assistance to cover basic living costs; local schools implemented new learning opportunities; non-profits found new ways to serve residents; and much more.
For a complete breakdown of the COVID-19 small business grants awarded throughout Oakland County in 2020, visit bit.ly/SBMapOC. For a complete breakdown of grants awarded to communities, families and individuals, visit bit.ly/ComMapOC.
New Initiatives Support Residents
The Board spearheaded several programs during 2020 to support residents with necessary services during the pandemic. The Safe for School Hotline launched in the fall, in partnership with Beaumont Health, to assist parents and guardians by pre-screening and identifying potential illness in students prior to entering a school. In partnership with county administration and Oakland Schools, we also developed the Oakland Together School Nurse Initiative. Through this partnership, the Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) hired public health nurses to serve in local school districts to address COVID-19-related concerns. In addition, the Board established the Senior Isolation Task Force, which helped launch the Oakland Together Lifeline Program. Through this initiative, participants at select senior living residences across Oakland County were given Amazon Echo Show devices and trained on how to use them for basic tasks. Participants can use the devices to speak with and see family members who may be unable to visit, ask Alexa for information and more.
Wherever we could, we assisted with additional county efforts related to the coronavirus pandemic. From the beginning, we supported countywide testing locations, assisted the health division in reaching our communities, shared information about workforce development programs and remained in contact with our constituents.
In addition, the Board shifted its meetings to a virtual platform, which allowed anyone to safely access meetings and participate in public comment remotely.
For COVID-19 resources, please visit www.oakgov.com/covid.