Cooper outlines spending proposal to help NC recover from pandemic
Gov. Roy Cooper and state health and safety officials provide a Feb. 4, 2021, update on the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and the state's response to it.
19. As of today, we have had 781 802 lab confirmed cases, 5495 new cases reported since yesterday, 2630 people in the hospital, and, sadly, 90 728 people who have died. Our hearts are with the families and friends of loved ones lost to this virus. We continue to be encouraged to see our numbers stabilized, but still there too high. Wednesday marked the highest number of deaths recorded in a single day since the start of the pandemic. This virus is still spreading and costing lives, and it's critical that we keep taking it seriously. Before I discuss our budget proposal, I'll recognize Dr Mandy Cohen, our secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to provide a brief covered 19 update. Dr Cohen. Thank you, Governor. We released the updated Cove in 19 County Alert System report today, and there's some good news in the report as a reminder of the Cove in 19 County Alert System uses a combination of three metrics two categories. Counties case rate per 100,000 people over 14 days, percent of tests that are positive and a composite composite hospital impact score. Using these metrics, we then categorize counties into three color tears to describe their level of viral spread and their health care capacity. Impact Red represents critical orange. Substantial yellow Significant. Now this slide shows an updated county alert map, and for the first time since we started this report back in November, are trends moved in? Ah, positive direction. Two weeks ago, 86 counties were red, and today that's down to 61. North Carolinians are working hard to protect one another, and we're seeing the results. But there is still a lot of work ahead of us. 94% of North Carolinian counties still remain red or orange with critical or substantial cove it spread. If we keep doing those three W's and everyone gets the vaccine, when it's their turn and our supplies increase, we will get to the other side of this pandemic. So whenever you are with people that you don't live with, keep wearing your mask over your mouth and nose. Wait 6 ft apart and wash your hands often. Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Dr Cohen. I'm very grateful for your stellar leadership during all of this. As you can see, there are encouraging signs. But we know this pandemic has tested us and we must remain vigilant. But I'm optimistic about our state's future. Our numbers are leveling and vaccines are being administered every day. We can and will turn the corner on this pandemic, and our communities could be even stronger than before. But for that toe happen the way we want. We must make strong investments now to help people and businesses recover. Today we're recommending emergency recovery and resilience investments for stronger North Carolina. It's really in three parts, defeating co bit, building back our people and our economy and then looking forward to building um, or educated skilled workforce. As we remain focused on keeping people safe and safe and healthy, we must work to ensure that our state is in the position t to thrive both during and after the pandemic. We must make certain that North Carolina remained strong, resilient and ready. This budget recommendation comes after consultation and input from both Republican and Democratic elected legislators and leaders, educators, health experts, businesses, workers and mawr. It deploys both federal and state resource is the federal covert relief package Congress passed in December provides more than $4 billion to North Carolina, and it can do a lot of good and you'll see that in this package. In addition to the federal stimulus, funds were recommending $695 million from the MAWR than $4 billion in state funds that we have on the bottom line. Right now, it's close to five billion. Right now, people need help immediately, and we have both the means and the power to give it to them. With the virus continuing to spread rapidly and new variants identified throughout the country, we need to use the resources we have to slow it spread and protect public health. This funding can help us get more testing, more treatment and more vaccines and arms. Nearly $700 million in federal funds will help us meet immediate testing and treatment needs, plus strengthen access to vaccines. As we get more supply, people and businesses also continue to feel the strain financially. Many families were living on the edge during this pandemic and weaken doom or to help businesses and keep people in their homes. Last year, we recognized that thousands of North Carolinians were threatened with eviction or power shut offs during the pandemic. My administration created the Hope Program with federal funds to make payments directly toe landlords and utilities to keep people in their homes. And it has already helped over 35 families. This program is a national model, and Republican leaders in the state Legislature are already recognized this and are rushing more funds to it. The 546 million in federal dollars in our proposal today will help this effort. We also know how many small businesses continue to suffer during the pandemic. The federal stimulus extended the paycheck protection program, or P p p, but I propose we invest $37 million. MAWR, an emergency state funds to support small businesses with a focus on historically underutilized businesses and market are great tourism and hospitality industry, which has been hit so hard by the pandemic. And we know bars and restaurants are hurting, and this budget proposes eliminating ABC permit fees, which will save them about $25 million. More help is also needed for schools and educators, and we're proposing nearly $2 billion for emergency assistance for public and private K through 12 schools and higher education in our state. But North Carolina should also use state funds to step up for our educators. In the last year, our teachers and school staff, along with community, college and university workers, have gone above and beyond. Teachers have always been our heroes. But throughout this pandemic they have underscored their courage and commitment to educating our Children. And bus drivers are getting up early and taking meals to families and kids to schools. Custodians were working hard to keep classrooms clean and sanitizing. I'm proposing one time bonuses of $2500 for teachers and principals, $1500 for school personnel in public K through 12 schools in $2000 for workers in our community, colleges and universities. These are the only state employees who did not get raises the last two years, and we need this boost to help keep them on board and reward their hard work. Our recommendation also includes funding to expand access to child care and provide MAWR support to our families. It also includes funding for school for food assistance, such a snap and school nutrition a swell as our food banks that are helping more people than ever before. The need for access to high speed Internet everywhere is more apparent than ever, with remote learning, the explosion of telemedicine and the need for small businesses to reach national and global markets. Our budget proposes $30 million in emergency investment to extend high speed Internet and for 35,000 hot spots for education. Now we need a significant bond package for a long term fix, and we'll talk more about that. Is the legislative session progresses? Even before the pandemic, North Carolina had some of the shortest and stingy ist employment benefits in the country. Now is the time to fix this and provide a really safety net. North Carolina's massive unemployment insurance trust fund balance can get people help. Right now, this budget proposes extending the maximum duration of benefits to 26 weeks and increasing the maximum benefit from $350 to $500 a week. This budget proposal provides the steps not only defeat this pandemic but shape a stronger future for our state. I've seen the relief on faces of seniors when that vaccine goes in their arms. I've talked to volunteers at food banks who are serving people who have never had to ask for food in their entire lives. I've heard from small business owners living on the edge to keep their employees hired and their life's work alive. I've zoomed with friends who have lost family members to co vid who had to be apart from them when they died. I've talked to people who received an unemployment check for the first time ever, who said they needed it simply to stay afloat. It's time to help all of these North Carolinians and Mawr. It's time to get healthier and stronger. I know we can do it. As I mentioned before, state budget director Charlie Peru's is with me today. For those following along, you could go toe os b m dot N c dot gov to get the details of this proposed budget. Also with me today is Secretary of the Department of Public Safety Eric Cooks, Commissioner of Prisons Todd Is she? Monica McGee and David Pain are our sign language interpreters and Erica Coogler and Margaret Roberts, our Spanish language interpreter's. Before Charlie goes through with his longer budget presentation. I'll pause to take a few of your question. Uh, right now, we'll do that. Now, Once we've gotten through many of those as we can, I'll turn it over to Charlie to go through mawr of the details of the budget proposal. So if you can identify yourself and your organization, uh, we'll take the first question. Our first question is from Liz Schlemmer with North Carolina Public Radio. Okay, you're waiting for that question. Okay, we'll try Lana Harris from WCNC. Hi there, yet Long hair. PNC Um, my question has to do with vaccine. One of the issues we've heard with senior specifically is that, of course not all of them are technologically savvy. Undoing has email, and it's becoming a bit of a barrier to getting signed up for vaccine. So my question is, have you all seen this becoming an issue in North Carolina? And what are the options for seniors who are having problems with that online process? But I do have one quick follow up question on that, too. The team is far. It's working very hard to make sure there are many avenues for, uh, seniors to make appointments for vaccines, but I'll let Dr Cho and talk about that a little more specifically. Hi, Lana. Thanks for the question. Yes. So there are many of our vaccine providers that are working with their community partners to make sure that our our seniors are getting in for vaccine appointments. I want to remind folks that supply continues to remain very low, so there aren't a lot of appointments, but we're seeing great partnerships, whether it's with our faith community in their churches, across the state or our community. Action agencies are federally qualified health centers. Others who know their communities well and are making sure that we can proactively get folks, um, in for appointments. So it's definitely something on our radar and one that we're watching very closely. But I know our vaccine providers are very sensitive to I will say we continue to know there are a lot of those who are over 65 who want to still get vaccines. Um, and that is why we continue to focus on that group. But supplies remain limited. Um, and so I know that we're gonna be working on this for for a while. Thanks. And there was a follow up. Yeah, I've seen in other states where organizations you mentioned community partners or ordinary people have created initiative to just help seniors get set up for vaccines. Do you encourage the community to do that just for the people who they know around them, who may or may not be able to get vaccinated, or or what can we do to really say, Hey, if you're a senior, you can't get online. You're not able to get the phone toe work. Here's what you can dio Thank you. It is fantastic for family and friends to help seniors to get appointments and to try to take them there. We've set up our Department of Transportation is giving rides to people who need them to get them to their appointments. The team is making significant efforts to get to underserved communities. We know that with such a small supply of vaccine and such significant demand that people who do have access to the Internet and have time and the ability often arm or successful in getting appointments, I think the team realizes that so there is a lot of focus on getting vaccine to our federally qualified health centers, that often serve these underserved communities. And we we do encourage people to try to help seniors, and particularly those who who can't look after themselves. Next question, please. Our next question is from Don Von with the news and observer. Hi, Don. Fine with the news to observer. Two questions What, And on the vaccinations. And of course, you know that teachers are asking about when they're in line next, and that's a few weeks away. Is there a plan for the logistics of having them vaccinated at work? Um, then also Governor Cooper. You do the bill to make death investigation records secret. Do you oppose the effort of the force? I see a tow block your administration from releasing records. So as to the vaccines, I'll let Dr Cohen answer that question. But I did not hear your second question. Dawn. What? What cases, If you're talking about I'm sorry, John Nevil Death Investigation and the Foresight County D A. That's walking your administration from releasing records about it. Okay, I'll have to get information about that. I'm I'm not familiar with that situation, but we'll get information to you and I'll let Dr Cohen, uh, take care of the vaccine. Question. Hi, don. As you rightly point out, we continue to vaccinate those that are 65 up. But the next group is our frontline, essential workers, those air folks that can't stay home to do work. There are teachers, are police officers or firefighters as we think about moving into that group, which we know is still a few weeks away. Um, there are going to be a different ways in which folks are going to operationalize this in their counties and with their vaccine partners. We're hearing about some that are going to go to school sites and do vaccinations there. Others will, um, invite them to existing vaccine site administration. So I think it will be a mix. We're working through some of those operational best practices now and hope to be ableto share Maura's. We get closer to that point. Thank you. Next question, please. Our next question is from Andrea Blanford with ABC 11. I was hoping you could respond more directly to the North Carolina Association of Educators, whose president told our reporter last night Teachers air very disappointed at urging the return to in person learning without first prioritizing their vaccination. What what would you say to them? Well, first, I am so grateful for our educators, not only our teachers and principals, but the frontline school staff who's been working so hard. They've been heroes. I've been a fighter for our public school educators. The proposal that we have made, uh, provides significant safety guidelines for educators in our public schools, and it is based upon research that has occurred that shows that going back to school and getting students in the classroom can be done safely with the appropriate health protocols that air in place. And in addition, we know the bad things that are happening with our students, with depression and with not reporting child abuse and all of the things that educators in the classroom can do for our students, that's hard to do remotely. I want to continue to work with our educators to keep them safe. I know I've talked to many of them who believe it is their mission to help educate these Children. One of the things I'm doing today is proposing these, uh, immediate one time bonuses for our educators. They were left out of pay raises. The last two years, and we need to get them help and to show them how much we appreciate them, which we do. And we're continuing to push the administration hard to get us Mawr vaccine in North Carolina. We want to get teachers and other essential workers as quickly as we possibly can. And I know that that strong effort is gonna be made. Next question, please. We have a follow up. Andrea Blandford, ABC 11. Yeah, Thank you for that. On the flip side, what do you plan to do with that proposed school bill that's working through the General Assembly right now requiring schools to reopen? Thank you. I have concerns about that legislation because Justus, you mentioned earlier about teachers being concerned to go back. That bill doesn't follow the guidelines that the Department of Health and Human Services has put out there, particularly for our middle and high school. So I'll have to wait and see what the final bill looks like when I get it. I don't think it's even out off the Senate yet and what we want to do. The good thing is, I think we all want to get our Children back into the classroom and we want to do it safely. But in order to do that, we need to follow the health guidelines that's been set out by the department. And this legislation doesn't do that. Next question, please. Our next question is from actually tally with WRL. Thanks for taking my call, Governor. Um, following up on Andrea is question about the bill going through the house or the Senate right now. Um, a lot of superintendents Air saying that it's impossible to maintain. There's, um, 6 ft of distance in their classrooms and on their Busses. How do you see all 115 school systems in North Carolina going back with caveats like this for middle and high school grades? Thanks for that question. We're seeing this being done successfully throughout the state along uh, in our middle and high schools. Uh, some systems are having our students there on certain days and other students there on other days. Uh, in some systems, there are enough people that want to keep their Children at home that they're able to do social distancing in middle and high schools, and we've got to stick to the science into the research, and I think our health officials. I'll let Dr Cohen come up in comment on that. But I think they feel pretty good about the research regarding elementary Children and be able able to be back in in class with, uh, the appropriate health, uh, protections. But they remain concerned about middle and high school. They want them back in the classroom to. But that social distancing is an important part of that. Dr. Cohen, you want to speak to that? Hi, Ashley. As you point out in your question for our middle and our high school, we are saying we want to have all of those safety protocols that we use an elementary. Plus, we wanna make sure we're keeping that 6 ft of social distance when when kids are in their classrooms. Um, and we we have seen folks be able to do that successfully again. We were looking at the science and the day that shows that transmission and middle and high school is closer to what we see in adults, which is why we want to maintain that 6 ft of distance. Um, I'd also emphasized that it is particularly the sports is where we are seeing, um, or transmission of the virus. Um, but when you're in school and you are maintaining 6 ft and you're wearing your mask, we're seeing very little viral spread, and that is how we can get our kids back in the classroom safely. And so that's why there is a difference between middle and high school versus what we're seeing in elementary school. And as I said, there are many ways to approach that 6 ft of distance. As the governor said, some are doing some kids in different cohorts. But depending on the school district, if your classrooms are larger and you're able to spread out, or if that you have folks who are opting in to that virtual learning, Um, and you just have less folks, you could be going each and every day in middle and high school, as long as you're maintaining that 6 ft of distance, and again, is why we're just wanting to maximize the safety protocols and get our kids back in the classroom. Thanks. Thanks. Next question, please. Our next question is from Jeff to bury with W U N C Hey, Governor Jeff from W N. C. Here. Um, I'm gonna ask toe. Essentially, ask my colleague Leaf Lemmerz question here in a moment if if that's okay as a follow up. Um, but I wanted to double back first to, uh, the budget proposal or some of the provisions that you laid out earlier. Um, you mentioned the 695 million in additional state funds. And then this, uh, this one time bonus effort for teachers and principals, university community college workers and in school personnel on I I gather that you, in your staff has been having some conversations with legislative leaders. I'm wondering if you could check little light on, um, are they in agreement with this 6 95 number and these one time bonuses or what? Where's the Legislature with this? I have to let them speak for that. But they know about this proposal, and in fact, we've been very transparent with them and have solicited their input. I've directed our budget staff toe. Let Republican and Democratic legislators know what we're doing and getting input from them. I see a lot of support for this on both sides of the aisle. I think some of them are wanting to see the consensus revenue forest gas before making a decision. But that's coming up very soon. Uh, we believe that that's going to be very strong. And we have this over four billion almost $5 billion in unreserved cash in the general fund right now. So what we're proposing for immediately needs is 680 or so million dollars out of the almost $5 billion that is there. So this is not an unreasonable request, an emergency situation. And particularly since these educators did not get raises over the last two years, we think is really important Thio in orderto to try to keep them on board. Uh, and to reward their good work that this bonuses be a part of this emergency appropriation. I hope we can work on that because I know that a lot of them want to help our educators. We had disputes over the budget last time, and e think this is an important signal Thio send. And what's your follow up, Jeff? I appreciate it when it comes time to vaccinate frontline essential workers, including teachers, Is anything being done? Will anything be done to prioritize those with two or mawr high risk health conditions. You know, we know that particularly vulnerable frontline workers are people that we need to make sure that we provide vaccines for. I'll let Dr Cohen talk about that. We're working with our providers. There will be some flexibility there. But Dr Cohen, if you can address that Hi, Jeff. Thanks. So again, just to reiterate, we're currently vaccinating those that are 65 up the next group that we would get to our our frontline essential workers. We know in that category of folks that there are those with multiple chronic conditions. Um, we at the state level are not going to be sub prioritizing within that group. Um, but we know that we will work with our vaccine partners in order to operationalize this, And we know it's a big group. Is a lot of teachers, a lot of police officers, a lot of firefighters, eso that we we want to make sure that we can get this is orderly as possible. We're hoping to put out some best practices, but we were will not be sub prioritizing at the state level. But we will work with our vaccine providers to make sure that they can be getting to folks. I want to reiterate. The supply is very low. So we're not gonna get to everyone the first day. The first week. It's going to take us a while in order to be able to vaccinate everyone that wants to. But we're gonna work as fast as we can and demonstrate to the federal government we need mawr vaccine here for North Carolina. Thank you. Next question, please. A final question for this portion of the Q and A will be from Brian Anderson with The Associated Press. Hi, Governor. Hi, Dr Cohen. Thank you so much for the time and taking this question for me, Governor, As you know, the Senate just passed. Well, there's been There's a bill on your desk right now for covert relief and looking through your proposal. There's some things that are exactly matched dollar for dollar, with the elementary Secondary Emergency Relief Fund for 1.6 billion and the 95 billion to HHS for vaccine. Uh, are you planning on signing this bill and then following up with lawmakers with some of your ideas, or do you plan to veto this bill and hope they regroup to incorporate more of your ideas. So they told me they were going to go ahead and pass legislation to appropriate this money. I'll have to look at the bills to make sure I know everything that is in there. But I'm in full agreement with them, appropriating that money and, uh, the real. If we did anything with that bill other than sign it, it wouldn't be because there's a dispute over when it was passed. We're glad toe that they have, uh, past appropriated those funds that are already a part of this. So I look forward to reviewing that bill before making a final decision on it, but and I also look forward to working with the Legislature. We think that Ah, lot of these ideas here, or ones that have been mutually discussed with both Republican and Democratic legislators. So we hope that we can come together on legislation that appropriates this money. You have follow up? Yeah, just a quick. Just a quick one for Dr Cohen. Do you know when we might see that next Group three prioritization come out? We're hearing reports. Could be in a couple weeks. Have you all talked about when that might occur. Thanks, Brian. So we have actually surveyed all of our vaccine providers to ask them about the demand that they are seeing from those who are 65 up the those that are currently vaccinating on what we've heard from the from the vast, vast majority is that they're still so much demand from the current group that we are in. So I think it's going to be a few weeks until we're able to move forward to our frontline essential workers. Um, so we're going to keep working hard on those that are 65 up. Um, it's good that we have additional vaccine coming to the state a little bit more from the federal government. We're gonna be prioritizing speed and equity over these number of weeks. And then we'll continue to ask our vaccine providers what kind of demand that they're seeing will look at our data, um, and then make a final determination as we go forward. Thank you. And I'll repeat one more time. Dr. Cohen and I've said this a lot, but we want to get people 65 over vaccinated because that's where we're seeing 83% of the deaths right now in North Carolina from Kobe. 19. Appreciate all the questions that we've gotten. And now I'd like to invite our budget director, Charlie Peru's to give you more detailed information on the budget that we're proposing. And I know he'll be available form or budget questions at the end of the presentation. So, Charlie, thank you, Governor, and Good Afternoon, everyone. The supplemental budget proposal is another important step in the states. Continued fight to combat the effects of the Cove in 19 Pandemic. Following the passage of the Federal Consolidated Appropriations of Act of 2021 North Carolina anticipates receiving an additional $4 billion in federal funds. Almost 90% of these federal monies are slated for education, emergency rental assistance and vaccine testing and tracing services. A summary of the federal fund amounts are included on page one of the summary document that the governor mentioned was on our website. The governor is also recommending a handful of other cove in 19 and Time sense it items totalling $695 million. They're broken down into three main areas, $468 million for critical education services. 82 million to strengthen our people and economy in 145 million for continuity of state government operations. Specifically, $486 million would support one time bonuses for 200,000 educators statewide, including $2500 for all public school teachers and principals. $1500 bonuses to non certified public school employees in $2000 bonuses for all U. N C. System and community college employees, both faculty and staff. This is about respect and appreciation for employees who have taken on the exceptional responsibility of teaching and supporting our students during a very difficult time. This proposal also provides assistance to help rebuild and strengthen our people and economy for small businesses. It includes $11 million to fully fund the Rural centers rapid recovery plan and an additional $20 million to support historically underutilized businesses. As part of the retool and see program to help the financially impacted restaurant and bar industries, the governor recommends waiving annual ABC renewal fees for the upcoming license period, saving them about $25 million. It includes $3 million for small business counseling, as well as $3 million to market North Carolina agricultural products and cultural attractions in our state's position as a business and tourism destination, high speed Internet access continues to be a pressing need in this recommendation provides $30 million to improve connectivity at rural community colleges libraries and to purchase 35,000 student hot spots. This proposal also includes $10 million to support food banks statewide and 4.5 million for housing assistance. Finally, in this area, the governor recommends modifying the state's unemployment insurance program. This includes increasing the maximum weekly benefit from 350 to $500 per week and adjusting the maximum number of weeks. An individual can receive benefits to 26 weeks. This could be done while accelerating the decrease in the base rate paid by employers. While keeping the you I trust fund balance above $2.5 billion the pandemic continues to put great pressure on other government services. This proposal includes $50 million to continued has their duty pay for public safety staff. It recommends almost $65 million to reimburse the state health plan for Cove in 19 related expenses. The package also request $20 million to purchase supplies, information technology and other equipment to protect employees and citizens. In addition, it recommends $2 million toe to support fees supported entities like the State Fairgrounds, Museums and Zoo. And finally, it appropriates $1 million to the state treasurer's office to assist struggling local governments. Thank you. I am happy to answer questions you may have. We remind our reporters on the line. Please press one to ask a question. Our first question is from Test Bargain War with Fox. Eight. Good Afternoon, Test Bar Jaber Fox. I wanted to ask the question about some of the vaccines in long term care facilities. I understand that some counties specifically here in the Triad have stepped in to help vaccinate facilities that did not enroll in CVS or Walgreens programs. I was wondering if the state knew how many living facilities still knew how Maney facilities needed vaccines and if that's taking any significant number of doses away from other providers, thank you for your question. I think that's best suited for Dr Cohen on. We'll make sure she has that question and will respond back to you Quickly. Thank you. Next question. You've got a follow up tests, Barber. Fox eight. My apologies. I've been trying to ask my questions previously so you can disregard my fire. Paula. Thank you. The next question is from Dawn Bond with the News and Observer. Yeah, I wanted to ask about what the governor said. It at the beginning of the pressure about the four billion is that, um the the state funds is that I'm sorry. The, um yeah, 695 million. Is that from the rainy day funds? And why are state funds needed If, um, there's federal money and then also probably more federal money coming down. Thank you for your question. Yes. The $695 million is recommended to be appropriated for the from the UN appropriated cash balance in the general fund, which is standing at $5 billion currently, uh, we put together this package recognizing that the federal stimulus package covers a lot of things, but there are a handful of doughnut hole areas or federal monies do not cover them. And we think, uh, many of these items are time sensitive and given the money on the bottom line. Uh, the governor recommends appropriating just under $700 million of this $5 billion cash balance in the general fund. Next question. Come on. The next question is from Travis staying with WRL. Yeah, thanks, Charlie. So I had come into this call very late. We'll have to catch up. So forgive me if I'm trotting overall ground here. But the money laid out in this press release that's come over including the $2 billion for education, is that in addition to what passed the house today, the 1.6 billion for education and, uh, is this on top of that or is an inclusive of that? Travis, It's inclusive that, um the bill that the Legislature passed today appropriates a portion of the $4 billion that we expect to receive from the federal government. They included in this first bill. Ah, handful of federal appropriations that they deemed time sensitive, uh, that education money as well as the emergency rental assistance money. And so they went ahead and appropriated that in this first bill and is our understanding that over the next couple weeks assed they looked through the proposal that the governor's outlining today, they'll look thio appropriate the remaining $4 billion of the federal monies, as well as review this $700 million general fund package that the governor is announcing today. Next question, we have a follow up. Travis Fain, W R E O Thank you. And you know, when the revenue revenue projections or do is that the next couple of weeks? Yes, sir. Uh, my staff in the Office of State Budget Management is working very closely with the fiscal research division at the Legislature to come up with our consensus revenue forecast, which we hope will be completed. Um, our goal is by the end of next week. So by the February 10th of February 11th time frame, that would be for the current fiscal year, as well as the revenue forecast for fiscal years 21 22 22 23. Next question. Come on. Our next question is from Laura Lee with Carolina Public Press afternoon. It's literally from Carolina foot pressed in terms of the 546 million for emergency rental assistance, which is probably says we'll build on the current work. Um Is that going Thio reopen applications for the Hope Program? Or is this? I mean, the way the press releases phrase makes it sound like perhaps it's already accounted for funding. Yeah. Good question. We're still working through the details and guidelines of Emergency Rental Assistance Program, but in the short answer, our goal is yes. Thio, open this up. The Hope program that the governor mentioned, uh, is a leader in the country. We were actually out in front of the federal government on this by establishing this emergency rental and utility assistance program back in the fall. Uh, that hope program, uh, received about $200 million in requests and currently have gotten out about 100 25 million of that. This 540 million we hope will be on top of of that as well. Um, there are some differences between what some of the hope guidelines were versus the emergency rental assistance guidelines that the federal government has provided. We're trying to match those up, uh, to make sure we we reaches many people as we can with this assistance. Um, we continue to make it the system or user friendly, where folks can fill out electronic lee online. We've also set up easier ways for, um, people to get in touch with their landlords and utilities to get this assistance. So, um, you know, over the next few weeks, when we have more guidelines from the emergency Rental Assistance Program, we would anticipate, uh, rolling it out and and and getting more applications in for assistance. Next question way will follow up. Lara Lee, Carolina Public Press and I follow. It's actually about the 700 million for vaccine and testing, um, covered related expenditures. How much of that will be for CBMs and other projections about how much more of the CBMs system is going to cost? I'm not familiar with the exact allocation amounts for those numbers, and we can work with our DHHS. I know they have a detailed plan to get you that direct information. What we do know is the federal government has provided some some guidance on how that $700 million is to be allocated. We have a very detailed state plan that talks about the expenditure plan for that 700 million, and that is, uh, we anticipate to be stretched out over the next two or three years. And so that's $700 million. Would you know, would be spent over the next 23 years and administering vaccines? Uh, statewide, as Dr Cohen and the governor mentioned earlier. Next question. Our next question is from Brian Anderson with the Associated Press. Hi, I'm just wondering if you could articulate what happens in the event that Congress does past another, uh, stimulus relief package. I know there's the proposal from Republican that 600 um billion dollars and inviting at 1.9 trillion, but would if something gets passed, what the state need to spend this money from its own funds for the direct payments to teachers and staff? Or could that come from a future stimulus from the federal government? That's a tough question to answer. Obviously, uh, the known known right now is is the federal stimulus legislation that was passed and signed in December. Obviously, we're keeping a close eye on the next stimulus proposal that was, um, presented by President Biden is currently being discussed in Congress. Um, obviously, North Carolina wants to maximize the use of federal monies and use federal monies first before appropriating state monies for things that the federal government might cover in the future. Um, it's a little bit hard to know about timing. Um, obviously, we would anticipate, um if the feds pass another stimulus in the next couple of months, that would interact very closely with the two year budget that the governor is scheduled to present to the Legislature in the early two Middlemarch to middle of March time frame. So it's a sort of a wait to be seen. Um, What we have seen, though, is that the recent stimulus money that the feds have provided have had very limited flexibility there for specific programs and specific populations, and haven't allowed the state much flexibility to put him in things. Uh, like, um, you know, compensation increases or educator bonuses like we've seen. Right now, there's there's no federal money that we have got or anticipate receiving that could be used for that. And so you know, we'll continue to work through the process or hopeful that the feds will pass another federal stimulus. We have ah, lot of state needs out there, as as we've mentioned earlier, and, um, we hope to have more information over the next you know, several weeks and incorporate that into the long session budget in March. Next question. Our final question today will be from Lakewood with NC AG weekly. Thank you, liquid here with N. C. As weekly. This question is more for Dr Cohen, and I understand that she might not be able to give me an answer right away. But I do wanna ask that we have heard from many individuals from across the rural parts of the state that say they have either not been able to set up an appointment to get the vaccine or they did have an appointment and it was canceled due to the provider not having an adequate amount of vaccines on him. But, yeah, there are mass numbers of the vaccine being administered other areas like Mecklenburg County. My question specifically is, what is the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services doing to ensure that these individuals in rural communities are receiving the same attention as those in more urban areas? Thank you for your question. We'll make sure we we get that to Dr Cohen and her team and have an answer to you as soon as possible. I I do know from the budgetary standpoint in, um, the plans that we've seen for disseminating the vaccine and and utilizing that $700 million of federal money there are, you know, targeted expenditures for outreach for rural and underserved communities. That's Ah, very top priority for the governor and Dr Cohen. And we look forward to giving you Ah, more detailed answer shortly. Thank you very much, everybody. Um as mentioned earlier, the detailed budget recommendations could be found on R O S B M website. Hope everybody has a great rest of the day. Thank you.