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County aid, supplies won’t last forever

By Staff | May 26, 2020

Lee County has set aside more than $57 million out of $134 million available from the federal government for phase one in helping individuals with rent assistance and utility bills, as well as restart grants and personal protective equipment (PPE) for businesses.

At some point those supplies and funds will run out so time is of the essence for those who need a helping hand.

At the Lee County Elections Center on South Tamiami Trail in Fort Myers on Tuesday, county officials detailed how the programs will work, including a touchless, drive-through system for businesses that qualify for the PPE to pick it up. The elections center building will be the site of where business owners and their representatives will be picking up the masks, hand sanitizers and gloves.

The county currently has a stockpile of approximately 1 million masks, 500,000 gloves and 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, Assistant County Manager Glen Salyer said.

“The PPE side, it’s first-come, first-serve,” Salyer said. “We will schedule these pickups until supplies are exhausted. On both the individual assistance and the business relaunch grant we are opening windows whereby we take applications.”

Salyer said the application process will run through Friday for the first round.

“At that point, we will batch all of those applications and make approvals. Assuming there is still money remaining, we will reopen the applications on June 1. If during one of those windows we become oversubscribed, we would have to go to the lottery system at that point,” he said.

As of 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the county had received almost 7,000 applications for aid on the first day the site was active, Salyer said. He said funds will start being sent out next week to businesses and vendors who are approved.

Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass said he believes business is picking up locally.

“I’ve seen the confidence coming back to the community, I’ve seen restaurants getting busier,” he said. “This is phase one. Once that money is gone, we’re going to move right into phase two. That’s something the board will discuss later to come back to establish more money. There is $134 million total for Lee County and hopefully the people in need, they are applying. That’s why we need you to get the message out. There are people out there who need it who don’t even know this is being offered.”

The PPE is being targeted for small businesses considered to be high-intensity contact businesses such as restaurants with less than 25 employees, medical and dental practices with less than 25 employees, childcare services, amusement centers, recreation centers, museums, barber shops, nail salons, beauty salons, historic sites and personal care services.

Those looking to apply for individual and business assistance can do so at leeflcares.com/.