May 12, 2020
This acronym is “CRF” – Coronavirus Relief Fund – which is part of the CARES Act. Before we get into the details of CRF, we want to relay a bit of insight that we hope “sticks” as we slowly work our way back to something that seems “normal.” We alluded to this in our last Post, but to paraphrase — the definition of ‘business as usual’ is getting revenue back on track and stabilizing financially. That will be a long time coming! As we begin to ease into Phase I of the Governor’s plan (with Northern Virginia potentially not beginning until the end of May) the thing that strikes us the most is the reticence to move out of what has become our “safe place.”
Staff offered the opportunity to work from the office a few more days a week are declining and opting to work from home, the attempt to schedule a meeting of 10 people in mid-June has received polite declines in favor of a video call, and the expectation that Day Services will reopen at full occupancy anytime before Labor Day seems highly unlikely. We truly understand that we are moving from “stay-at-home” to “safer-at-home.”
And this means that getting revenue back on track and stabilizing financially is going to be a slow and difficult process. The importance of restoring revenue to being able to stabilize is true in the provider world and in the worlds of state and local government. The CRF (approximately $3.1 billion not including the $200 million designated for Fairfax) may specifically not be used to make up for revenue shortfalls. It can be used for necessary expenditures due to COVID-19 that were not budgeted, and were incurred between 1 March and 30 December, 2020. While the private sector does not draw (for the most part) any General Fund dollars, there is a provision in the Virginia plan for “discretionary” spending to be included. We have asked DBHDS to consider including in their request to the Governor some funding to offset the costs of PPE and cleaning supplies which we have incurred.
It is true, therefore, that while CRF is a good thing, it will not get Virginia back on it’s feet any more than the retainer payments will put Day Support on a firm footing – both will certainly help, but neither gets us back to “business as usual!”