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March 2020 FEMA Disaster Declaration

January 15, 2021 - 11:55am

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced Thursday that after numerous discussions with President-elect Joe Biden and his team, his incoming administration’s FEMA will deliver roughly $2 billion MORE to New York State for COVID-19 relief.

Schumer said that while these funds are meant to help alleviate the mounting local costs associated with the pandemic, they will ultimately help New York State tackle COVID-related budget gaps.

The money, Schumer explained, is tied to the March 2020 FEMA Disaster Declaration declared by the Trump administration. Under that declaration and current policy, 75 percent of NYS COVID-related expenses are covered by a Disaster Relief Fund (DRF.) Now, the expenses covered will be 100 percent -- and this will deliver roughly $2 billion more to New York within the next several months.

“President-elect Biden is laser-focused on America’s economic recovery, and this recovery begins with tackling the costs states and local governments have incurred in managing the pandemic,” Senator Schumer said.

“For New York, the costs have been huge and will take years to overcome entirely, but achieving my goal of 100-percent FEMA cost share to New York will mean a sigh of relief for all New Yorkers because these critical dollars will help protect essential services and workers while we deal with badly burdened budgets that have been gut-punched by COVID. I am glad we could get this done even before the President-elect is sworn in because it shows how we will be hitting the ground running come January 20th.” 

Schumer has been pushing for 100-percent FEMA cost share since the crisis began.

Early on, in March 2020, Schumer wrote FEMA saying, “I write today to urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to wave the 25 percent state cost share associated with any coronavirus disease (COVID-19) work under the March 13 Emergency Declaration. As New York has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., I urge the FEMA to request this waiver from the President as soon as possible.”

Schumer spent the next month’s making more calls, speaking with President Trump and hammering home the critical need for 100-percent relief. His advocacy continued for months thereafter and included many meetings, calls, and additional letters.  

New York State has been responding to COVID since last March, spending limited funds on masks, extra nurses and doctors, temporary hospitals, and so much more. Because of Schumer’s earlier pushes, FEMA told the state that many of these expenses are covered, similar to insurance, under the COVID declarations.

Over time the state has submitted to FEMA a log of these expenses and FEMA has assessed those expenses. For every dollar spent, FEMA and federal government currently cover 75 cents and the state provides the remaining 25 cents. Now, after Schumer’s push, the incoming Biden administration’s FEMA will cover 100-percent of eligible expenses, delivering roughly $2 billion more to the State of New York.

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