Nacogdoches County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously voted to apply for a $1.6 million grant in federal relief funding to help battle the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is a very timely in the situation we have in the jail right now,” County Judge Greg Sowell said, referring to a recent outbreak of the virus among jail inmates and staff. “We’ve got some work to do out there.”

Twenty-five inmates and five jail staff tested positive for the virus over the weekend, with 11 more jail-related cases added Tuesday and two tacked on Wednesday.

The grant would include $320,000 of immediate cash for expenses incurred by the county such as protective equipment and testing. Administered through the Texas Department of Emergency Management, grants also cover overtime and hazard pay and emergency sick leave for county employees.

The funding is part of an $8.04 billion grant from the federal government to the State of Texas, Sowell said, and $1.85 billion went to large metro counties with more than 500,000 population.

“This funding goes through Dec. 30 of this year; however, that is subject to be extended,” Sowell said.

Commissioners are scheduled to hold a special meeting Friday to discuss supplemental hazard pay for county jail staff. That meeting is set for 9 a.m. in Suite 170 of the Courthouse.

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