FEMA to begin reimbursing families for COVID-19 death-related funeral costs

Coronavirus cases are quickly taking over hospitals and health facilities. MUSC’s Intensive...
Coronavirus cases are quickly taking over hospitals and health facilities. MUSC’s Intensive Care Unit beds are near capacity, 37 percent of in-patients at Roper St. Francis Healthcare are COVID-19 related and at Trident Health nearly a quarter of the ICU beds are occupied by coronavirus patients.(Live 5/File)
Updated: Mar. 17, 2021 at 6:03 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (WCSC) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it is working to set up a toll-free number to help families who’ve lost loved ones to COVID-19 apply for funeral assistance.

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 provides FEMA $2 billion to reimburse families for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred between Jan. 20 and Dec. 31, 2020, according to the agency’s website.

“We are working with stakeholder groups to get their input on ways we can best provide this assistance, and to enlist their help with outreach to families and communities,” FEMA’s website states.

FEMA says it plans to implement the funeral assistance program in April.

“In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation,” the website states.

As of Tuesday, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control says 7,851 people in the state have died from COVID-19. Another 1,030 deaths are being investigated as “probable” COVID-19-related deaths.

It was not immediately clear how many deaths confirmed to be caused by COVID-19 in South Carolina would have fallen between Jan. 20 and Dec. 31, 2020, since DHEC adjusts some death figures after the fact as probable cases are confirmed as COVID-19-related.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 533,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

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