Pandemic Utilities

What the CARES Act Means for Various American Industries

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020 with the goal to protect Americans from the impacts of COVID-19.

It includes a $2 trillion economic relief package which will be distributed across four areas according to the US Treasury Department: assistance for American workers and families, assistance for small businesses, preserving jobs for American industry, and assistance to state, local, and tribal governments.

Numerous industries will see direct aid as a result of the CARES Act, but what that aid looks like differs. This blog will take a look at how the CARES Act helps healthcare, governments, higher education, and airports.


The healthcare industry can expect to see $100 billion in aid, all in the form of reimbursements. According to HIT Consultant these reimbursements are meant to cover costs from COVID-19 related care such as “building temporary structures, leasing properties, buying supplies, hiring and training additional workers and increasing surge capacity.”

Being awarded aid involves filling out a form and presenting numbers on the aforementioned costs.

The CARES Act also makes some changes in regards to Medicare and Medicaid. It will reverse scheduled cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, which according to HIT Consultant will “[spread] an additional $11 billion across 3,000 hospitals.” It will also accelerate payments through Medicare parts A and B.

As telehealth has become a widely used alternative in healthcare, it is not forgotten in the CARES Act. $200 million will be provided to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help aid in telehealth services.

Clinics with less than 500 employees are also eligible to receive aid through loans allocated to the Small Business Administration (SBA).


According to the US Treasury Department, government monetary aid received through the CARES Act can only be used for expenses that:

  1. Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);
  2. Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and
  3. Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.

The amount of aid that is awarded to each state or territory is based on population. The US Census data from the most recent year it is available will be used to determine population. In order for a local government to be eligible for direct aid payment, their population must exceed 500,000.

The CARES Act requires the submission of a required certification by any eligible government.

See how the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency used CARES Act funding to secure Veoci for their EOC in this press release.


The CARES Act allocates $10 billion to commercial and general aviation airports. “This $10 billion in emergency resources will help fund the continued operations of our nation’s airports during this crisis and save workers’ jobs,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

This aid is meant to supplement the loss of business that airports all over the country have experienced since COVID-19. According to the US Department of Transportation, the funds are available for the following: airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments.

The FAA encourages that this money is spent as soon as possible to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.

Another element of the CARES Act for airports is that the federal share for grants awarded under the fiscal year 2020 appropriations for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and Supplemental Discretionary grants will be 100 percent.

Higher Education

The CARES Act will allocate $30.75 billion dollars to an “Education Stabilization Fund.” According to The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), this money will be divided into two pots:

  1. 10 percent of total funds (approx. $3 billion) will be given to governors to distribute.  This money can be given to colleges, universities, or K-12 organizations who have been most impacted by COVID-19.
  2. Part of the funding will go directly to K-12 agencies and to colleges and universities. Of this second pot of funding, 43.9 percent (approx. $13.5 billion) is directed to K-12 and 46.3 percent (approx. $14.25 billion) is directed to higher education institutions.

At least half of the funds received by colleges and universities (about $6.975 billion across all institutions) must be used for emergency financial aid grants to students for “expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. These expenses include costs such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care” according to TICAS.

Federal loan payments for students have been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools also no longer have to match campus-based aid programs and they can pay students for work study hours even if they are unable to work do to COVID-19

Planning Ahead

Although much of the aid organizations will be receiving from the CARES Act is already allocated, an organization may find that it has funds left over. If this situation arises at your organization, you may be trying to find reasons to spend the leftover funds.

A good place to start is with an analysis of your organization’s response to the pandemic (and past disasters and disruptions). After-actions reviews will identify any gaps, like weak communications structures. Can the leftover CARES funds be used to bolster communication pathways? If your organization has the extra funds, equipment that solves that weakness may be a candidate for that spending.

Ask this of your organization: Are there areas in our response that can be improved upon? Are there gaps? Investing in your EOC is an excellent use of extra CARES Act funds, helping ensure that your organization is ready for future disasters, (and a possible second wave of COVID-19).

Aid and Relief

As this public health crisis continues, these organizations will need continued support. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations, businesses, and governments across the US are struggling; the CARES Act should provide them with the much needed funds to continue their operations, pay employees, and secure equipment they need to respond to the pandemic.

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