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Should FEMA Pay For COVID-19 Burials?

File: A funeral in progress at Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights. Services at most cemeteries are discouraged or limit the number of guests that can attend. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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More than 18,000 Angelenos have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Now, assistance could be on the way to help grieving families bury their loved ones.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted today to explore ways to locally implement a federal program, designed to reimburse families for COVID-19-related burial costs.

The last coronavirus relief package passed by Congress included $2 billion to help with funeral expenses, through December 31 of last year.

FEMA is still working out how to implement the program, but Supervisor Hilda Solis, who authored the motion, said the county needs to get started on planning now for how to distribute those funds when they arrive. Her statement:

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"I have heard from so many of my constituents, as well as staff at funeral homes, of this real and devastating toll on families. Residents have had to organize car wash fundraisers, GoFundMe online campaigns, and food sales to come up with the money to lay loved ones to rest...Los Angeles County has a responsibility to help provide for a proper burial, allowing dignity for those who have died from COVID-19 and closure for their mourning families."

The approved motion directs officials to assess the feasibility of implementing the FEMA burial cost program in L.A. and report back in 30 days.


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