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Coronavirus in Florida

State sending $138 million to health departments

Most of the money is heading to Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach.

The Florida Department of Health announced Thursday that it is sending $138 million in federal pandemic funds to county health departments to hire epidemiologists, nurses and contact tracers.

Nearly 70% of the funding will be directed to 12 counties — including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach — with high COVID-19 caseloads, based on a June survey of county officials.

The Broward County Health Department is slated to receive $30.5 million to help fund an additional 870 employees, including 26 epidemiologists, 450 contact tracers, and 90 nurses, according to state health officials.

The Miami-Dade County Health Department will receive nearly $19.5 million, after reporting that it needs 506 new employees, including 400 nurses. The aid to the counties comes from part of a stimulus law known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act.

The Palm Beach County Health Department will receive more than $12.7 million. The county in June reported that it needs 362 additional employees, including 23 epidemiologists, 140 contract tracers and 76 additional nurses.

Department of Health spokesman Alberto Moscoso said distribution of the funds is based on the results of a June county-health department survey that was designed to assess additional staffing needs amid the coronavirus pandemic. But Moscoso said the amount of money the counties receive could change, based on community spread of COVID-19.

Data provided by DOH showed that county health departments throughout the state reported needing a total of 350 epidemiologists, 1,210 contact tracers and 997 nurses, in addition to the health-care professionals currently employed.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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