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CARES Act funds allocated to Freeport

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The Town of Hempstead allocated more than $160,000 in Covid-19 grant funds to the Village of Freeport on March 14. 

The relief funds, which came from the town’s $133 million CARES Act allotment, will help the village with unexpected expenses incurred because of the pandemic, particularly to purchase personal protective equipment to distribute to residents and the Freeport Police and Fire departments. 

Combined with a $33,000 grant the town provided last week, Freeport has received nearly $200,000 in CARES Act funds this month, village officials said. 

“Local governments working together for the betterment of their residents is always significant and is particularly meaningful in an era of a pandemic,” Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said. 

“We’re proud to provide the village with these important CARES Act funds to assist them in their ongoing response to the pandemic and their recovery efforts,” Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said. “Freeport was one of many communities within my district that were hardest hit by the pandemic.”

Freeport continues to be among the hardest-hit communities in Nassau County, with more than 5,200 cases reported as of March 12, according to the county Department of Health. 

Because of the high infection rate, Freeport became the first village in the state to distribute free masks and other PPE to residents at Village Hall. 

The village also needed to provide PPE for its police officers and firefighters, who were at the front lines of the pandemic. About 30 of the village’s 100 officers have tested positive for Covid-19. 

“We had to pay for those officers’ benefits and overtime for the others who stepped up in their place,” Kennedy explained. 

The same was true of the village’s essential workers in the Department of Public Work and Electric Department. After 65 percent of them were furloughed last March because of state regulations, the essential employees who stayed had to work significant overtime to keep all systems running. Employees also earned compensation time that they could cash out early, which several did. 

As of March, the village had spent more than $6 million to combat the spread of Covid-19.

While the village plans to recoup at least 75 percent of the costs through reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials hope to receive the remaining monies through Hempstead’s CARES Act funds, as well as additional aid from the federal government.    

“As a former police officer, I know how committed Mayor Kennedy and his entire village workforce are to assisting their residents and business owners throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Town Councilman Christopher Carini, whose district includes parts of Freeport. “This CARES funding will certainly bring some relief to the Village of Freeport as we work together during these uncertain times.”

In November, when Freeport was seeing more than 200 confirmed cases a week, town officials delivered some 10,000 masks and 50 PPE kits to the village. The masks and kits, which were filled with sanitizing supplies, were distributed to Freeport residents and business owners.  

The town also used its CARES Act funds to allocate $150,000 to the Freeport School District last year.  

Village and town officials said they would continue working together to allocate the needed funds to help Freeport’s pandemic recovery effort. 

Village officials are also advocating for a permanent Covid-19 vaccination site in Freeport.