Saturday, December 4, 2021

Federal Emergency Declaration Triggers FEMA Response to Fight Covid-19

By on March 20, 2020

SAN JUAN – Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced announced late Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be supporting the response work of the Department of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the emergency caused by the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In accordance with section 502 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207 (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.

“Consistent with the President’s national emergency declaration for the coronavirus (COVID- 19) pandemic on March 13, 2020, FEMA urges officials to, without delay, take appropriate actions that are necessary to protect public health and safety pursuant to public health guidance and conditions and capabilities in their jurisdictions,” FEMA announced.

“The Government of Puerto Rico has in this health emergency the possibility of activating and receiving assistance from FEMA in response work. In these efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 and to care for suspected or infected patients, it is the local and federal Department of Health that leads and provides all services, with the crucial help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, to the extent that the situation is analyzed on a day-to-day basis, FEMA assistance will be requested,” the governor said. “We will do everything in our power to protect the lives of Puerto Ricans.”

National Guard Maj. Gen. José J. Reyes, adjutant general of Puerto Rico (Jaime Rivera / CB)

Likewise, “the costs for the National Guard services to address the coronavirus emergency may be expenses that are considered eligible within category B,” a Vázquez administration release reads.

FEMA assistance will be provided at a 75 percent federal cost share.

“This assistance will require execution of a FEMA-State/Tribal/Territory Agreement, as appropriate, and execution of an applicable emergency plan. Local governments and other eligible PA applicants will apply through their respective state, tribal or territorial jurisdictions,” FEMA said.

Sub-applicants can now submit their Public Assistance Request (RPA) through the FEMA Grants Portal. The Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) will be administering and providing the corresponding information to those who require services eligible for reimbursement of FEMA funds.

Individuals can obtain information on protective measures and how to proceed to receive medical assistance in case of suspected Covid-19 infection by accessing the Department of Health website: www.salud.gov.pr/Pages/coronavirus.

FEMA provided the following guidance on the types of emergency protective measures that may be eligible under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program in accordance with the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration “in order to ensure that resource constraints do not inhibit efforts to respond to this unprecedented disaster.”

Eligible Assistance

FEMA may provide assistance for emergency protective measures including, but not limited to, the following, if not funded by the HHS/CDC or other federal agency. While some activities listed may be eligible for funding through HHS/CDC, final reimbursement determinations will be coordinated by HHS and FEMA. FEMA will not duplicate any assistance provided by HHS/CDC):

  • 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 guidelines
  •  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

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