RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper recently published a letter on Mar. 28 to the North Carolina congressional delegation asking them to “act immediately” on President Joe Biden’s ask for $22.5-billion in additional COVID-19 emergency funds.
“I am pleased to report that North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics continue to decline, ushering in a new phase of COVID-19 where the virus is still with us but not disrupting us,” Cooper wrote. “However, to succeed in this phase and not go backward, Congress must act immediately on the pending COVID-19 supplemental funding package so we can prepare for the next surge and stop it from overwhelming us.”
Cooper said that if Congress didn’t act soon, “North Carolina’s public health readiness will suffer” and will “create procurement chaos not seen since the early days of the pandemic as states compete for testing and treatment resources.”
“A single buy from the federal government to sustain the production of critical supplies is the right approach and will help us win the fight against COVID-19,” wrote Cooper.
In his letter, Cooper claims that the state’s monoclonal antibody supply has been reduced “by 30%” due to “insufficient” federal funds. That part of Cooper’s letter lines up with remarks made by the governor and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley during a COVID briefing on March 17.
Cooper also wrote that “The state has far exceeded its budgeted funds for testing due to the back-to-back Delta and Omicron surges and record-setting community testing efforts.” That claim was not present in his remarks at the briefing on March 17, at which time Cooper passed the buck to the legislature for ending his over two-year-old statewide state of emergency order.
As of the date of Cooper’s Mar. 28 letter to the congressional delegation, that statewide order was 748 days old.
In his Mar. 17 remarks, Cooper’s referenced “laws” presented to the General Assembly that could end that order. The request to lawmakers refers to a letter sent by Kinsley to House Speaker Tim Moore and other legislators that describes certain “legislation needed for mitigation.”
For over a year, Cooper has repeatedly claimed his statewide COVID-19 state of emergency order was needed to “draw down federal funds.” North State Journal was unable to substantiate that claim.
To date, North Carolina has received billions in COVID relief funds from the federal government.
According to the N.C. Office for Pandemic Recovery (NCPRO), the state received over $50 billion in 2020, nearly $30 billion in American Rescue Plans funds through March 2021. NCPRO’s website says that Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) allocated “$1.9 trillion to COVID-19 relief and economic recovery” with North Carolina directly receiving “more than $5.7 billion” in two distributions.
NCPRO provided North State Journal with a list of COVID related relief funds received by the state that total around $109,188,096,031 from sources such as the CARES Act, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA), and the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The breakdown by source is as follows:
CARES Act: $64,609,728,008