Updated: April 10, 2021 07:01 PM
Created: April 10, 2021 02:46 PM
Across the country, more than a half-million people have died after contracting COVID-19. The pain and grief for families continue to loom large. But part of the American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden last month includes helping offset funeral costs. It's part of a new federal program starting next week.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will offer financial assistance of up to $9,000 per funeral. In Minnesota, about 7,000 families are eligible for funeral aid.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke to Jessica Bullock just last year, after she suddenly lost her mom to COVID-19. She says making the final arrangements was overwhelming at times, and the bills quickly adding up didn’t help.
“It was really fast — less than 48 hours of being in the hospital that she died,” Bullock said. “Because you are grieving and the next day, you have to figure out what to do with their body and where you want it to go. And, you can hardly ... all of a sudden you're in business mode, but your loved one just died.”
Bollock says a program like this would really ease the financial burden for many grieving families.
“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. They don't have to do that.’ People die, and people have to pay funeral expenses. And for them to do that is just unbelievable,” Bullock said. “And so I think it's amazing that FEMA is offering that grant.”
To be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet these conditions:
“The pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many. At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters," a FEMA spokesperson said in a statement. "Although we cannot change the outcome of what has happened, we are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden created by this deadly virus."
FEMA will begin accepting applications for funeral assistance on Monday. Information on how to apply can be found on the FEMA website.
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