The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering help to the families of the more than 540,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19. FEMA says it will reimburse families of those who have died from the virus since Jan. 20, 2020 for funeral expenses of up to $9,000 per funeral, or up to $35,500 per applicant in families that have lost multiple members to the virus, CBS reports. The agency says it plans to roll out the program nationwide starting in April and will set up an 800 number to help people apply. It says people who plan to apply for financial assistance should start gathering documents like death certificates, receipts, and documentation of assistance from other sources, ABC reports. FEMA says it will not duplicate benefits received from burial insurance or other government agencies.
FEMA says it aims to "help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic." "At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during, and after disasters," Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said in a statement. "The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate." The Biden administration's COVID relief bill included $2 billion to reimburse families for funeral expenses from 2020. (Read more coronavirus stories.)