The Federal Emergency Management Agency has spent more than $1 billion to help cover the cost of funerals of those who have died from Covid-19, the agency announced Friday.
Congress authorized FEMA to spend up to $2 billion on the Covid-19 Funeral Assistance program as part of the $900 billion pandemic relief bill passed in December and added another $50 billion to cover general coronavirus-related costs in the $1.9 trillion relief bill signed into law in March.
FEMA started accepting applications for funeral assistance in April, and more than 150,000 people have received aid so far, with another 90,000 applications pending. Applicants can receive up to $9,000 per burial, with a $35,500 limit for those who have lost multiple loved ones to the disease.
The agency has provided burial assistance in the past, but at nowhere near this scale. “FEMA's Funeral Assistance program allows us to provide funds directly to those who may be facing an unexpected financial burden following the tragic loss of a loved one,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said in a statement, “and we are committed to providing this assistance with the compassion, fairness, integrity, and respect these families deserve.”