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FEMA money still available for COVID-related expenses | News

BOSTON — Federal pandemic relief money is still available for nonprofits and local governments dealing with COVID-related expenses, with reimbursement of up to 100% for the purchase of masks, protective clothing, testing and other costs.

Massachusetts has been under a major disaster declaration since March 2020, when Gov. Charlie Baker requested the designation. That has kept the door open for financial assistance to flow from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cities and towns, state agencies, and some nonprofit groups.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order shortly after taking office in January requiring FEMA to reimburse states and local governments for up to 100% of pandemic related costs. FEMA normally reimburses up to 75% of the expenses.

Biden also expanded the types of eligible costs for reimbursement, which organizations can participate, and the period of time for covered expenses.

To date, more than $808 million has been obligated to eligible local governments and nonprofits in Massachusetts through FEMA’s public assistance program, according to the federal agency.

But state emergency management officials say there’s still money available and are urging eligible nonprofits and communities to submit their requests.

Besides the state and local governments, the FEMA money is available for nonprofits such as houses of worship, museums and zoos, assisted living facilities and community centers that have incurred COVID-19 related expenses.

The money can be used for the purchase of face masks and other protective gear, cleaning and disinfection of facilities, COVID-19 testing and diagnostics, and the addition of physical barriers such as plexiglass to prevent spread of the virus.

Earlier this month, Biden extended FEMA’s coverage to 100% of state emergency costs related to the virus through April 2020.

Biden previously extended the deadline to apply until the end of the year, but has acknowledged that the COVID-19 emergency will likely extend into next year.

Massachusetts was previously approved for a small business disaster declaration that paved the way for low-interest federal loans to qualifying business owners and nonprofits.

FEMA has also provided more than $31 million in direct funding to about 4,500 Massachusetts residents through the individual assistance program to help cover COVID-19 related costs, including funeral arrangements, according to the federal agency.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency will be hosting webinars on Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. and Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. to field questions about the FEMA program.

For more information and to register for the webinars: https://bit.ly/MEMAwebinars.

Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at cwade@northofboston.com.


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