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Durbin, Bustos Tout American Rescue Plan COVID Relief Funding For Peoria

Bustos Durbin Ali
Tim Shelley
From left, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbi, D-Ill., and Peoria Mayor Rita Ali at a press conference on Friday, June 18, 2021 at Heartland Health Services in Peoria.

The City of Peoria received $47 million from President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief package passed in March.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is quick to point out it also was a bill passed without a single vote across the aisle.

"The American Rescue Plan was, sadly...didn't have a single Republican vote," he said. "But part of the money that was being focused in that plan is for vaccines. Not just for the production of vaccines, but the distribution of vaccines."

On Thursday, Illinois health officials reported the state reached the 70% vaccination threshold for people ages 18 and older who have received at least one dose — the first state in the Midwest to reach the goal set by the president.

Durbin, speaking at a news conference Friday in Peoria, also said it's essential that schools are ready to open safely in the fall, and allocating funding to federally-qualified health care providers like Peoria's Heartland Health Services (HHS).

HHS received $3.7 million in ARP funding. CEO Sharon Adams said that money has gone to good use.

In addition to aiding the health provider in its COVID-19 efforts, Adams said it also allows the organization to bring to fruition some items on its wish list for years — such as purchasing EKG and ultrasound equipment, and introducing home monitoring services for patients with chronic health conditions like hypertension and diabetes.

"We're very excited to be involved in this and making a difference for our community," said Adams. "And we want to continue doing that. So these funds will help us to do that."

Heartland Health Services also is continuing to aid in the local fight against COVID-19. To date, the agency has collected more than 37,000 test samples, and administered nearly 4,600 vaccines.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, said it's important to not only get back to normal, but build back better, to borrow the president's phrase.

"In our nation, we've lost 600,000 lives that have been taken from us," said Bustos, who appeared with Durbin. "And that is why we have to invest on making sure we get past this pandemic."

The city used $10 million of its ARP money to avoid issuing debt to fix the budget. Another $300,000 was used to end furloughs for city employees for the remainder of the year. The city is still in talks to decide how to spend the rest of that money.

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