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Puerto Rico Fiscal Board Makes $5 Million Available to Address Coronavirus Risk

By on March 3, 2020

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board announced Tuesday that it is making available an initial $5 million from the remaining Emergency Reserves established in the certified fiscal year 2019 and 2020 budgets to help the government prepare amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

“Given the fiscal responsibility put in place by the Oversight Board through budgeting policy, additional funds can and will be made available if the situation warrants incremental actions,” the board said. “The funds being made available today will enable the Task Force created by Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced to increase public awareness and improve the public healthcare sector’s capacity.”

The board said it will be in “constant communication with the Task Force to ensure there is adequate” funding.

“The goal of making these funds available is to limit the risk to the people of Puerto Rico to the maximum extent possible by acting urgently in advance,” the statement reads.

Board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko announced that the panel will review all spending made with the funds “to ensure they are used solely for epidemic preparation and response,” according to the release.

The board said it and the Health Department have agreed that the funds will be used initially for the following, “subject to change as the situation evolves”:

  • Public education campaign including providing information, guidance documents, and technical support to local health departments, health care facilities, schools, universities, colleges, and childcare facilities across Puerto Rico.
  • Strengthening response capacity of key hospitals, including the preparation of facilities for potentially infected patients.
  • Purchase of materials for health professionals.
  • Training of nurses and paramedic staff.
  • Strategic advice for the Task Force and the Department of Health on planning for possible scenarios.

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