- For the past month, FEMA and other federal agencies have been supporting The White House Coronavirus Task Force as part of a whole of government response to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the public.
- On March 16, 2020, FEMA Region 7 activated its Regional Response Coordination Center in Kansas City, Missouri to provide a coordinated federal response to assist local, state and Tribal partners in the Midwest with COVID-19 efforts. FEMA Region 7 is comprised of the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska and is home to nine federally recognized tribal nations.
- More than 100 Federal staff have been deployed to assist with the Region 7 response to COVID-19. Other federal agencies supporting regional efforts include: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), its public health component known as Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response, the Department of Defense Coordinating Element, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture
- On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a nationwide emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Act to help reimburse certain emergency costs and/or provide direct federal assistance to local, state and territorial governments, as well as tribal nations. The states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska were included in this sweeping designation.
- Since then, all four states requested and received major disaster declarations. Currently, all 50 states have this same designation, the first time this has occurred in the history of the U.S.
- Six of the nine federally recognized tribes in Region 7 have received direct emergency declarations to help reimburse certain emergency costs and get direct federal assistance to support their tribal nations’ COVID efforts. Those tribes are:
- Ponca Tribe of Nebraska
- Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
- Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation of Kansas
- Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas
- Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
- Omaha Tribe of Nebraska
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Since mid-March, three shipments of PPE have been distributed from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to each of the four regional states. Quantities were determined by the state’s pro rata population recorded in the 2010 U.S. census. To date, the federal government has provided the following quantities from the national stockpile:
- Iowa: Approximately 283,000 surgical masks, 261,000 pairs of gloves, 119,000 N95 respirators, 47,000 surgical gowns, 58,000 face shields and 1,900 coveralls.
- Kansas: Approximately 274,000 surgical masks, 257,000 pairs of gloves, 115,000 N95 respirators, 46,000 surgical gowns, 56,000 face shields and 1,900 coveralls.
- Missouri: Approximately 418,000 surgical masks, 336,000 pairs of gloves, 115,000 N95 respirators, 68,000 surgical gowns, 83,000 face shields and 2,000 coveralls.
- Nebraska: Approximately 227,000 surgical masks, 231,000 pairs of gloves, 96,000 N95 respirators, 39,000 surgical gowns, 47,000 face shields and 1,800 coveralls.
- Region 7 Tribes:
- Boston Scientific Corporation donated 7,700 masks to R7 tribes.
- Other organizations, such as the American Red Cross are donating PPE to the tribes as well, including such items as face shields, bulk hand sanitizer, gloves, etc.
- FEMA also has facilitated disbursement of additional PPE through its Project Air Bridge operation.
- Project Air Bridge was created to fast-track the delivery of PPE from international markets directly to U.S. medical supply distributors for disbursement to their respective customers.
- FEMA covers the cost to fly supplies from oversea factories, reducing the customary shipping time of weeks to just days.
- All supplies will continue being distributed to CDC-designated hot spots as well as through the vendors’ regular supply chain to locations across the country.
- During the first two weeks of April, millions of pieces of PPE were provided through Project Air Bridge directly to medical/hospital facilities within Region 7 states.
National Guard Support - Title 32
- President Trump approved requests from all four R7 states for federally funded activation of National Guard personnel to support state-level COVID-19 efforts.
- Known as Title 32, the action means that the federal government pays 100 percent of the National Guard costs for a maximum of 30 days, saving money that the states would ordinarily have to pay. The action does not federalize command of activated National Guard personnel. Rather, each state’s Governor still directs and controls the Guard’s COVID-19-related work in coordination with the U.S. Department of Defense.
- At the request of Region 7 states, National Guard members have been put on a 31-day deployment, which triggers health benefits for guard members while on duty during that period. This coverage is not available for typical 30-day deployments but was requested because of the nature of this effort in a health-challenged environment.
- Each Region 7 state already has received at least $17 million from FEMA towards the Title 32 costs.
Creation of Alternate Care Sites (ACS)
- An Alternate Care Site (ACS) in St. Louis County is open, providing additional capacity for St. Louis-area hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
- At the State of Missouri’s request and in an effort to be prepared, FEMA mission assigned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to convert a hotel into an ACS. Construction was completed in four days, and the first recovering patient arrived on April 14.
- The state-run site only accepts patients who are medically referred by a St. Louis-area hospital system and have minimal or mild symptoms of COVID-19.
FEMA Public Assistance (PA)
- The Public Assistance Program provides grants to state and local governments, tribal nations and certain non-profit entities to assist with eligible costs associated with responding to and recovering from disasters.
- The PA program is activated by a presidential disaster declaration. For Region 7 states and tribal nations, this includes both the emergency declarations and the major disaster declarations recently issued specifically for COVID-19 efforts.
- Now, eligible entities can apply for reimbursement of certain costs associated with taking emergency protective measures. This includes such things as buying medical supplies, establishing temporary medical facilities used to treat patients, and some labor costs for temporary medical personnel.
- FEMA has simplified the Public Assistance application and funding process to address the magnitude of the COVID-19 event.
- All impacted governmental entities and nonprofit organizations can begin the Public Assistance application process by going online at https://grantee.fema.gov/. and directly submitting a Request for Public Assistance, as well as creating their own accounts.
- On April 4, FEMA awarded $44 million to the State of Iowa to reimburse eligible purchases of PPE such as isolation gowns, masks, face shields, safety glasses and gloves, thermometers, disinfecting wipes, sanitizer, respirators, and ventilators to assist hospitals, medical clinics, city and county governments, and certain private-non-profits across the state.
Direct Federal Assistance:
- At the request of all four R7 states, the president’s disaster declarations also authorized Direct Federal Assistance to help governmental entities and tribal nations with certain COVID-related actions that the states, localities and tribes themselves cannot undertake at this time for some reason, such as the inability to use their own personnel to perform a function or an inability to contract with someone else to do the work.
- Direct Federal Assistance means that a federal resource directly performs an action on behalf of a state, locality or tribe. FEMA has tasked multiple federal agencies to provide this direct assistance. Here are a few examples:
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked with building out Alternate Care Sites.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human services is helping to secure medical supplies and providing technical expertise to the states and tribes related to COVID- 19 issues.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is assisting with COVID-related food supply issues.
Support from Other Federal Agencies:
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- On April 17, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new USDA program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. President Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support to farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of the food supply chain and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need.
- Three tribes and two states in Region 7 have been approved to do Disaster Household Distribution with USDA Foods. This approval allows state and tribal staff to deliver food to individual households in order to maintain COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing.
- The Kansas Department of Children and Families and the Missouri Department of Social Services are the state agencies approved for this service.
The approved tribes are:
1. The United Tribes of Kansas and Southeast Nebraska (Kansas)
2. The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska (Nebraska)
3. The Santee Sioux Tribe (Nebraska)
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) staff are providing technical assistance and guidance to states seeking waivers to help them provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting social distancing and recognizing some limits in availability of food types and package sizes.
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program waivers support remote certifications, allow food and package substitutions and waive requirements for physician statements for medical foods.
- Numerous Child Nutrition Program (CNP) waivers include an April 6 nationwide waiver allowing states to exceed a 60-day initial claims submission deadline for January and February 2020.
- In addition, FNS staff have helped gather additional information to assist Region 7 states with opting into a CNP nationwide meal pattern component waiver covering meat/meat alternates, whole grain rich products, vegetable sub-groups and fruit.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- HHS has awarded more than $59 million in coronavirus response grant funding to community health centers (CHCs) throughout the region to help meet staffing needs and prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients. The breakdown is:
- $27 million to 29 Missouri CHCs
- $15 million to 19 Kansas CHCs
- $11 million to 14 Iowa CHCs
- $6 million to 7 Nebraska CHCs
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) will receive $13.6 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to support Missouri’s COVID-19 response efforts.
- HUD has made more than $16 million of COVID-19 Relief Funding available to communities in Nebraska, $33 million to communities in Iowa, $23 million to communities in Kansas and more than $57 million to communities in Missouri.
- HUD has made $2.7 million of COVID-19 relief funding available to assist federally recognized tribes in Region 7.
COVID-19 Information Resources:
Check out recently updated online resources regarding COVID-19 at the links below. Feel free to include these links in your COVID communications and/or link any or all pages to your own websites:
Visit our COVID-19 page for the latest on the whole-of-America response. Learn what we’re doing to support patients and healthcare workers, how we are prioritizing resources, and sources of support for economic recovery.
Rumors can easily circulate within communities during a crisis. Stay informed on what is rumor vs fact related to the coronavirus response.
COVID-19 Response: How to Help
Learn how to help if you are a company with medical supplies to donate or sell, a volunteer who is medically trained, or a member of the general public.
COVID-19 Partner Resources
Learn what help is available to state, local, tribal & territorial governments and how to get financial reimbursement from FEMA.
New Guide on Disaster Financial Management
Do Business with the Federal Government
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Find answers about COVID-19 here: https://faq.coronavirus.gov/
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
- SBA is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Find more info here: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- The FDA is working with U.S. Government partners, including CDC, and international partners to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. Find more info here: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/counterterrorism-and-emerging- threats/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. Find more info here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- Get answers to VA related questions about the coronavirus: https://www.va.gov/coronavirus- veteran-frequently-asked-questions/
FEMA reminds the general public that the virus can affect persons of any age, and that each and every person can help slow the spread of coronavirus by frequently washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, practicing physical distancing (at least six feet from another person) and staying home as much as possible until local or state authorities provide different direction.