PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Municipal and county governments in South Dakota can use coronavirus relief funds to promote local mask requirements or other restrictions related to COVID-19, a spokesman for Governor Kristi Noem said Wednesday.
Brookings has already done so, according to her communications director, Ian Fury.
“The governor is supportive of communities utilizing these funds pursuant to U.S. Treasury guidelines. To date, one community has sought and been approved for such an effort,” he said.
State Finance Commissioner Liza Clark confirmed to KELOLAND News it’s allowed. Her bureau is coordinating state government’s use and distribution of more than $1.25 billion of federal COVID-19 aid that South Dakota has received.
Noem has steadfastly refused to order a statewide mask requirement, saying Wednesday she didn’t know whether she has that power. The state Department of Health promotes wearing masks.
Unless South Dakota finds more uses, many millions of dollars might go unspent before the December 30 deadline that Congress set for states to obligate their coronavirus relief funds.
The governor told reporters Wednesday she’s still trying to get an extension. At the same time, her administration has asked municipal and county governments to estimate how much of their $200 million allocation they’re likely to need through December 30.
Clark told the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee Wednesday that thousands of businesses that applied for compensation haven’t responded to state emails sent about incorrect information.
Said Fury, “As Liza and the governor both discussed today, we are looking at several options for the remaining funds, such as further expanding the small business grant program, hazard pay for healthcare workers, or a per-bed payment for healthcare providers, and we’ll let you know when we have more (information).”