(TNS) - The Biden Administration signed a memo Tuesday directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( FEMA) to reimburse cities and towns 100% of COVID-19 related expenses.
The move comes after FEMA abruptly changed course last summer, notifying Manchester and other municipalities they would not be reimbursed for the cost of COVID-19 supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies for schools, police and fire departments, and other critical public safety services.
Such purchases made by the Manchester School District alone totaled roughly $11.3 million, according to city officials.
U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas cosponsored legislation in the fall to address the situation and called on FEMA to change course.
"This is an incredibly important development for New Hampshire school districts, cities, and towns as they continue to be on the front lines of this pandemic," said Pappas. "It never should have come to this, but I'm pleased that, after months of advocacy, our communities aren't going to be stuck with the check from the federal government. We have no more important obligation than to ensure that our schools, public transit, police, fire and EMS all have the supplies and resources needed to remain safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19."
The reimbursements are retroactive to Jan. 20, 2020 declarations for the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19-related expenses that are once again eligible for 100% reimbursement by FEMA for state, local, tribal and territorial governments include:
—Increased operating costs as a result of the pandemic, including the cost of operating virtual services and virus testing sites;
—Training activities; personal protective equipment for first responders and essential employees;
—Medical equipment and other public health costs;
—Increased costs of operating homeless shelters and providing food to affected individuals.
"I'm thrilled the President announced today the expansion of 100 percent FEMA retroactive reimbursements to local communities," said Mayor Joyce Craig in a statement. "Throughout the pandemic, the City of Manchester and the Manchester School District made significant investments in PPE, cleaning supplies, and more. At a time when our community is facing unprecedented revenue shortfalls as a result of COVID-19, this move will allow us access to resources to combat the pandemic and keep employees, students and residents safe."
"Today's announcement is great news for municipalities," said NH Municipal Association Executive Director Margaret Byrnes in a statement. "Obtaining FEMA reimbursement for the nearly year-long COVID-19 pandemic is a high priority for our municipalities who have incurred and continue to incur unbudgeted COVID-related expenses. NHMA looks forward to providing support and information to our members to ensure that they receive the full reimbursement for this cost share adjustment."
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