The funds were distributed to more than 300,000 applicants, according to FEMA, with the average grant amounting to a total of about $ 6,500.
“FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program has helped provide over 300,000 people with critical financial assistance in a time of such unexpected, unimaginable and widespread loss,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said in a statement.
More than 960,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States since the pandemic began.
FEMA will also launch a targeted paid media campaign targeting areas with high Covid-19 death rates but low registrations for the funeral assistance program, the agency said. The campaign will start in locations in four states: California, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.
“Our new outreach campaign is designed to reach out to families, especially across underserved communities, where the cost of a funeral can be a financial burden for a loved one. Our goal is to help families apply for help, as well as submit all necessary documents for existing applications, “Criswell said.
The agency also hosts media conferences with several local media in African American, Latin American and Asian American Pacific communities.
To qualify, the death must have occurred in the United States or its territories, and funeral expenses must have been incurred after January 20, 2020. While the applicant must be a U.S. citizen or legally resident, there is no requirement that the deceased person meet these criteria.
Applicants begin the process by calling FEMA’s funeral hotline, 844-684-6333. They must then submit all the required documentation to determine eligibility. Applications can only be processed once all the paperwork has been received.
Applicants must submit a death certificate that directly or indirectly attributes the death to Covid-19. If the death certificate is issued between January 20 and May 16, 2020, the applicant may instead submit a signed statement from the original death certificate or the local physician stating Covid-19 as the cause or contributing cause of death. This signed declaration is intended to provide a further explanation linking the cause of death listed on the death certificate to Covid-19.
Congress established the program as part of its corona aid packages in 2020 and 2021.
CNN’s Tami Luhby contributed to this report.