Mayor Message

Media Relations Team

Melanie Crabill
Director of Media Relations
[email protected]

Kevin Kilbane
Director of Communications
[email protected]

News Releases

February 19, 2021

Last May, the City of Columbus received $157 million in federal CARES Act dollars to support the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to meet the most critical needs of our community.

Our first focus was on emergency shelter and food assistance, investing more than $18 million to establish COVID shelters and $1 million to assure homebound residents didn’t go hungry. We invested another $36 million to support human services agencies struggling with unprecedented demand, helping residents avoid eviction, feed their families and pay their utility bills. 

Many families struggled to balance work and remote learning. To help assure all children had the chance to succeed, the City purchased 20,000 Chromebooks for Columbus City Schools and partnered with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to provide internet hot spots. We also invested $1.6 million to support learning extension centers to provide a safe, healthy environment for students to get help with school.

Many parents rely on daycare to keep their jobs, but most child care centers were shuttered during the shutdown. The City used CARES Act dollars to provide assistance to 450 child care providers in Franklin County, which allowed many residents to stay employed.

We also know young people were desperate for positive activities and interactions, so we invested CARES dollars to ensure Columbus Recreation and Parks could provide summer camps, and invested $2 million with outside agencies and community organizations through micro intervention grants to help stem youth violence.

Small businesses also needed help to survive the economic crisis, and thus we provided more than 950 small businesses with grants up to $10,000 to help them weather these unpredictable times. And because we knew that minority and women-owned businesses were less likely to qualify for the federal payroll protection program (PPP), we prioritized our grant and loan programs on minority businesses first. In addition to funding the critical frontline public health response to COVID, the City was able to maintain core city services without laying off a single employee. We established operations at the state fairgrounds, first to provide community testing and then to administer vaccines. To date, Columbus Public Health (CPH) has tested nearly 23,000 people, and in just a short period of time, administered more than 25,000 vaccinations.

Still more CARES dollars were invested to staff contact tracing efforts and to operate a hotline to provide potentially life-saving information to residents with COVID-related questions. Since the beginning of the pandemic, CPH has answered more than 73,000 calls. What’s more, the City has distributed more than 500,000 masks throughout the community because we know that facial coverings are still our best defense against the spread of the virus.

Initial federal support helped our community manage the pandemic, and to position Columbus for recovery - including funding for anchor institutions and community assets vital to retain and attract residents, employers and new ideas that will be required to navigate challenges that lie ahead. We know as the pandemic continues, we will need more funding to address the short- and long-term repercussions. We are working closely with the Biden administration and our congressional delegation to ensure we receive the resources necessary to continue to manage the pandemic, keep our residents healthy and safe and fuel a recovery focused on equity and closing the racial, social and economic disparities COVID exposed.

In the meantime, we must remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19: wear a mask, stay home as much as possible and limit your risk. Wash your hands often. And when it is your time to get the vaccine, do not delay.

We will turn the corner this year, and with continued hard work, commitment and dedication from city staff and residents, we will lead our community back to health.