Baker County has received about $265,000 in federal and state aid to help with its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

County commissioners discussed the financial assistance on Wednesday when they approved the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The larger sum is $211,000 from the CARES Act that Congress passed in late March.

And the county will eventually receive more than that for its COVID-19 efforts, said Christena Cook, the county’s administrative services director.

“We are in the last process of just actually filling out the agreement with the state for CARES money and our CARES money is going to be more than the $211,000,” Cook said.

The county is using the federal dollars to pay salaries and benefits, including overtime expenses, for county employees who are working on the pandemic preparations and response.

Baker County’s Emergency Management department also will receive a $54,000 state grant from the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).

Jason Yencopal, the county’s emergency management director, said all hospitals in the region receive money from the Oregon Health Authority, and they decided to pool the money and form the Eastern Oregon Medical Reserve Corps.

The organization was originally based in Morrow County, but Yencopal said Baker County has taken over coordination for the region.

The county has used the MRC grant to buy medical supplies that could be used in case Saint Alphonsus Medical Center has to deal with a surge in COVID-19 patients.

Yencopal said he hopes to buy a device that uses ultraviolet light to disinfect items that could be used in treating patients.

“Then we are just trying to stock up and have some type of reserve of gowns, N95s, gloves, the standard kind of PPE (personal protective equipment) stuff,” Yencopal said.

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