(Photo illustration by Fernando Zhiminaicela/Pixabay)

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to appropriate nearly $12 million to the county Emergency Operations Center’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The board voted to increase appropriations to the EOC by $11.7 million, with roughly $4.88 million coming from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and roughly $6.88 million coming from the county’s cannabis tax revenue fund.

The board also approved an additional $250,000 for the county EOC to operate the Food Bank for Monterey County. That funding also came from the cannabis tax revenue fund, according to county officials.

“It’s that cannabis fund that has given us the opportunity to do a lot of the things that we’ve done through (COVID-19),” Board Chair Chris Lopez said.

The board allocated $3 million in cannabis tax revenue to the EOC in May that was used for meal delivery services, public messaging about the pandemic, the county’s COVID-19 call center and the purchase of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, according to EOC Finance Section Chief Shawne Ellerbee.

The EOC spent approximately $2.2 million of that $3 million allocation during fiscal year 2019-2020, which ended June 30, Ellerbee said. The remainder of that funding will be placed back into the county’s cannabis tax fund.

As of Aug. 25, nearly $19 million in the cannabis revenue fund was unassigned, according to Ellerbee.

County public health officials have confirmed 8,068 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, including 58 deaths. Kristy Michie, the county’s assistant director of public health, said people should not be fooled into thinking the county has had a relatively small number of deaths.

“Just to put those fatalities and number into perspective, while some may say they’re small, during the last flu season we had four deaths” due to flu complications, Michie said.

Michie said the county is starting to see its curve of new cases flatten somewhat. The county’s overall positivity rate sits at 11.15 percent.

“The efforts that everybody’s been making to stay home when they’re sick and wear face coverings and keep social distancing is starting to work in Monterey County,” Michie said.

“I implore everybody to keep those up so that we can keep this curve going in the right direction,” she said.