ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 will once again have the opportunity to apply for assistance when the county’s CARES Act portal reopens, according to Mayor Jerry Demings.

Demings announced during a news conference on Thursday that the county has millions of dollars in leftover federal CARES Act money and, therefore, can begin accepting applications for another round of financial assistance.

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County officials are expected to announce details on the reopening of the application portal for families and individuals next week.

The news comes after leaders closed the CARES Act portal after only 10 minutes of having it open for what leaders said would likely be the last time in July. Within those 10 minutes, 10,000 applications were submitted.

The decision to reopen the portal now comes as the county has $56 million left to be allocated before the end of the year, according to Demings.

Days after Disney, Central Florida’s largest employer, announced thousands of layoffs, Demings said many members of the community are still struggling to make ends meet.

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“With the need being so great. I want to let you know that we intend to announce the reopening of our Orange Cares Individuals Family Assistance Program early next week,” Demings said.

During the news conference on Thursday, Demings said Orange County was initially given $243.2 million in CARES Act dollars. He said the county expended $187.2 million to cover various COVID-19 costs within the community.

“These dollars are provided through our small business grants, social services, and community assistance programs, and to purchase personal protective equipment and other needs,” Demings said.

Tens of thousands of applications have been submitted since the first time the portal opened this summer, getting off to a rocky start.

The county launched the portal on June 8 and closed it 20 minutes later. The county said 2,000 users were applying for financial relief in the first minute. The portal reopened the next day and closed after 90 minutes. It opened for a third time the following week and shut down after an hour. It reopened for a fourth round of assistance on June 22 and reached capacity after 75 minutes.

The mayor said so far, the program has helped nearly 30,000 residents and has paid out nearly $30 million.

“We know the need is great and we intend to continue to answer the call for service in our community,” Demings said. “Together, we’ll see through to a promising future.”

The county set aside $72.9 million of its CARES Act grant to help residents and an additional $72.9 million to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus, officials said in an earlier update.

The deadline to allocate the remaining funds is Dec. 30.

More information about Orange County’s Individual and Family Assistance program and details on how to apply can be found at ocfl.net/OrangeCARES.

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