The Kent County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to allocate the last of the county’s Corona Virus Relief Fund to help businesses that were shut down by the health department due to COVID-19 — and to expand broadband services to the Big Woods neighborhood near Worton.

The Commissioners approved $50,000 for businesses that had to pay for professional cleaning services following an outbreak.

“It was certainly no fault of the business owners,” said Commissioner Ron Fithian. “If nothing else gets paid I can’t imagine why this shouldn’t.”

Fithian said in one instance a false positive test of a restaurant worker in Rock Hall forced the owner to close for a day and pay in excess of $4,000 for professional cleaning services. The worker later turned out to be negative for COVID-19.

The grants pay up to $5,000 and businesses must provide receipts for the sanitation services in order to be reimbursed for the expense. The dates and details of the application process for the grants are not yet announced.

This latest round of grants brings the Commissioner’s total COVID-19 related business relief in 2020 to $410,000.

The Kent Cares for Growth Fund Grant that launched in June made $200,000 available to help businesses with 2-50 workers or a physical storefront to modernize and adapt to the COVID-19 business environment in areas like E-commerce, software upgrades and training.

The COVID-19 Modification Reimbursement Grant made $125,000 available to help businesses with sanitation supplies, protective equipment and physical modifications made to reduce further spread of the virus. 

In May the Commissioners paid out $85,000 from the county’s revolving loan fund to help businesses who were unable to qualify for state and federal money programs that were available at the outset of the pandemic.

Broadband Expansion

The Commissioners also approved $100,000 from the fund to lay fiber optic cable from Lynch to the New Christian Chapel of Love near the community of Big Woods in Worton.

Kent County IT Director Scott Boone said the church could be used as a learning hub for approximately 15 county school students who are without Internet. The line would also allow 47 homes to access Internet services.

The funds for business relief and the broadband expansion have to be used by Dec. 31 or revert back to the Corona Virus Relief Fund.