A new state audit on Tuesday faulted the Newsom administration for nearly doubling the amount of federal coronavirus relief funds for just a handful of the state’s largest counties.

The state received nearly $10 billion from the federal government in 2020. In distributing those funds, the administration’s finance department allocated significantly paid more per person for larger counties than for smaller ones. It favored just 16 of the state’s 58 counties.

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This was despite some rural counties experiencing COVID-19 infection rates just as high, if not higher, than their larger counterparts. Large counties—those with more than 500,000 residents—initially received amounts equivalent to $174 per person directly from the U.S. Treasury. Then, with its allocation to those same counties, Finance increased the per-person amount to at least $190, according to the audit. In contrast, the 42 counties with fewer than 500,000 residents—the ones that did not receive any CRF funds directly from the U.S. Treasury—received amounts equivalent to just $102 per person.

State Auditor Elaine Howle called for a more equitable distribution of money if Congress passes another relief package.

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