PORTLAND — Authorities said Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice awarded $85,314 to the city of Lewiston to address public safety challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

U.S. Attorney Halsey Frank submitted photo

That department’s Office of Justice Programs awarded the grant as part of $850 million available under the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Donald Trump, according to U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank for Maine.

“The program allows eligible state, local and tribal governments to apply immediately for these critical funds,” Frank said in a media statement. The office overseeing the program “is moving quickly, aiming to have funds available for drawdown as soon as possible after receiving an application,” he said.

Lewiston was the only city in Maine awarded a grant under this program, according to the website of the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance.

The coronavirus aid bill gives jurisdictions considerable latitude in the use of funds for dealing with COVID-19, Frank said.

The aid may be used to hire personnel, pay overtime, purchase protective equipment and distribute resources to hard-hit areas. The money also may be used to assist correctional facilities cover costs related to COVID-19, including, but not limited to, sanitation, contagion prevention and measures designed to address the related medical needs of inmates, detainees and correctional personnel, he said.

In announcing the grant, Frank said, “My hope is that this grant will help Lewiston combat the coronavirus that has so disrupted our lives.”

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims and enhance the rule of law by strengthening the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

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