Democratic Senator Mark Montigny says a $1.1 billion COVID-19 aid package approved by Beacon Hill lawmakers has provisions that will help greater New Bedford, and added that last night he secured some extra funding for the region.

In a media release, Montigny said that in a late-night Senate session he secured an extra $250,000 in direct aid for testing and personal protective equipment, assistance to small businesses, and financial relief to households experiencing economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the additional funding, Southcoast Health and the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center will be able to increase testing services to vulnerable residents, including low-income and non-English speaking individuals, Montigny said. They will also be able to procure more PPE.

Montigny said the House and Senate have now reached agreement on a COVID-19 relief bill and that it will be enacted later this week before heading to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker for his signature.

The overall bill provides $30 million for community health centers, $20 million in RAFT rental assistance, $9 million for emergency food assistance, $350 million for personal protective equipment, and other measures necessary to respond to the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Montigny said the bill will help entrepreneurs develop e-commerce platforms to help them compete in a virtual, online economy.  Finally, the Community Economic and Development Center will provide direct support to households facing extreme economic hardships due to COVID-19.

“Our community continues to endure severe hardships due to COVID-19,” said Montigny in a statement. “Hopefully these measures will provide some much needed assistance to help those most in need during these challenging times."

The Senate passed its version of the supplemental budget bill on July 2 and the House passed its version in late June. The Greater New Bedford Community Health Center is offering free coronavirus testing to area residents, no questions asked, as part of a program recently announced by Gov. Baker.

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