BENTON HARBOR – The Berrien County Department of Health predicts a decrease in COVID-19 funding from state and federal governments in fiscal year 2022.
Acting health worker Courtney Davis told members of the Berrien County Board of Health on Wednesday that they expected an estimated $ 1 million drop in COVID response funds.
“I think it’s very reasonable for us to expect the funding to keep going down and at some point just not be around anymore,” Davis said.
She said she expects there will be funding in 2023, but only a fraction of what the ministry currently receives.
BCHD’s budget shows a favorable variance of $ 1.8 million from the budget as of August 30, due to increased state and federal government grant revenues and low personnel costs.
As of August 30, federal and state grant revenues were $ 4.3 million, up $ 1.5 million from last year. This increase is largely attributed to COVID help, said Jen Pries, chief commercial officer.
Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance revenues have plummeted, largely because their clinic has seen a decrease in traffic due to the pandemic, Pries said.
Direct expenses decreased by $ 536,000, mainly due to lower personnel costs for the hotline and immunization clinics. Due to several open positions, the staff budget was also lower than the budget.
COVID-19 cases maintained their plateau. Davis said he was not sure this preceded a drop in cases.
“We hope it’s a real leveling; that would be really good, ”said Davis. “We haven’t seen a decrease yet, but we have continued to see that kind of peak stop growing.”
The percentage of positivity also stabilized, she said.
The largest increases in new cases in September were seen among those aged 0 to 19.
Local hospital partners are always very busy, Davis said. Emergency departments are inundated, not entirely with COVID-19 patients, Davis said, but many other non-COVID respiratory illnesses.
Benton Harbor Response
The Department of Health will not lead efforts to rid Benton Harbor of lead pipes, but health officials have said they want to be advocates throughout the process.
Davis said the BCHD is not the regulator responsible for public water, but the agency wants to provide “wrap-around services” to help residents. The Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy is the authority responsible for maintaining the public water supply.
“We are certainly aware and concerned and are looking at the health of residents in many aspects, all the time,” said Davis.
BCHD provided lead filters, as well as a hotline for residents to call in case of problems.
The ministry currently has one full-time employee who works specifically on lead contamination and recently received funding for a part-time employee as well.