2020 CARES Act – FEMA Disaster Relief Fund / Stafford Act Assistance

Published: June 08, 2020

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FEMA providing federal aid and assistance to states for emergency protective measures through the Public Assistance Program in order to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

Originally Published: April 14, 2020

Updated: June 8, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to cripple broad swaths of the country, populace, and the economy, the federal government has responded, partially by allocating funding to FEMA to vastly supplement the Public Assistance Program. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020, provided $45 billion for a Disaster Relief Fund for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal and territorial governments to protect citizens and help them respond and recover from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19. The $45 billion disaster relief fund will remain available until expended. This amount included $25 billion for major disasters declared for certain states under the Stafford Act.

In accordance with section 502 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, the “Stafford Act”, eligible emergency protective measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency at the direction or guidance of public health officials may be reimbursed under Category B of FEMA’s Public Assistance program. FEMA assistance will be provided at a 75 percent federal cost share.

FEMA has released a Public Assistance application Fact Sheet to provide an overview of the application process for recipients requesting federal reimbursement related to federal emergency and major disaster declarations for COVID-19. Each state’s Disaster Declarations can be found in the FEMA Disaster database with further information as it becomes available. A number of states have had Public Assistance Grants funding already obligated, but more information and details for remaining states are expected to become available as FEMA processes applications and awards assistance. Of the states with grant dollars obligated, California has received the largest portion at $7232 million, followed by Texas with $621 million and Florida at $252 million. Fifteen states have received between $1 and $100 million, while seventeen states have so far received below $1 million in secured grant dollars.

The Eligible Emergency Protective Measures Fact Sheet details how FEMA may provide assistance for emergency protective measures and activities which may include, but is not limited to:

  • Management, control and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety:
    • Emergency Operation Center costs
    • Training specific to the declared event
    • Disinfection of eligible public facilities
    • Technical assistance to state, tribal, territorial or local governments on emergency management and control of immediate threats to public health and safety
  • Emergency medical care:
    • Non-deferrable medical treatment of infected persons in a shelter or temporary medical facility
    • Related medical facility services and supplies
    • Temporary medical facilities and/or enhanced medical/hospital capacity (for treatment when existing facilities are reasonably forecasted to become overloaded in the near term and cannot accommodate the patient load or to quarantine potentially infected persons)
    • Use of specialized medical equipment
    • Medical waste disposal
    • Emergency medical transport
  • Medical sheltering (e.g. when existing facilities are reasonably forecasted to become overloaded in the near future and cannot accommodate needs)
    • All sheltering must be conducted in accordance with standards and/or guidance approved by HHS/CDC and must be implemented in a manner that incorporates social distancing measures
    • Non-congregate medical sheltering is subject to prior approval by FEMA and is limited to that which is reasonable and necessary to address the public health needs of the event, is pursuant to the direction of appropriate public health officials and does not extend beyond the duration of the Public Health Emergency.
  • Household pet sheltering and containment actions related to household pets in accordance with CDC guideline.
  • Purchase and distribution of food, water, ice, medicine, and other consumable supplies, to include personal protective equipment and hazardous material suits movement of supplies and persons.
  • Security and law enforcement
  • Communications of general health and safety information to the public.
  • Search and rescue to locate and recover members of the population requiring assistance.

Reimbursement for state, tribe, territory and/or local government force account overtime costs.

Please see the FEMA Disaster Declarations or the attached excel file for the full breakdown of funds available for each state. This resource will be updated as more information becomes available.