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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report

FEMA’s Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report evaluates FEMA’s COVID-19 response operations. The report identifies key findings in five areas and provides targeted recommendations based on the findings. The report covers January 2020 through September 2020, and primarily focuses on the March 18, 2020, through September 30, 2020, timeframe when FEMA was designated lead for federal operations coordination. The report does not evaluate other federal agencies or state, local, tribal or territorial partners.

The Initial Assessment Report is a collaborative product of the agency across all 10 FEMA regions and field offices in the affected states, tribes and territories.

COVID-19 Report graphic

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report

Download the Full Report

Overview, scope and methodology

Key findings and recommendations

By the Numbers

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, FEMA has (as of January 8, 2021):

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Obligated $57.1 billion to support the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts and $44 billion in support of Lost Wages Assistance

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Managed 57 concurrent presidential major disaster declarations for COVID-19 in all 10 FEMA regions

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Coordinated shipping for 473 million N95 respirators, 1.9 billion surgical/procedural masks, 111 million face shields, 851 million coveralls/surgical gowns, and over 43 billion pairs of gloves

Key Findings and Recommendations

The Initial Assessment Report identifies 32 key findings and 57 recommendations to improve existing and future responses to pandemic incidents.

The findings and recommendations are organized in five areas.

Coordinating Structures and Policy

FEMA leveraged existing federal policies and structures in non-typical ways and adapted its processes to coordinate the COVID-19 response.

See more Coordinating Structures and Policy findings


FEMA engaged with private sector stakeholders to secure critical supply chains.

See more Resources findings

Preparedness and Information Analysis

Federal pandemic planning did not account for nationwide resource shortages.

See more Preparedness and Information Analysis findings

Supporting State, Local, Tribal and Territorial (SLTT) Partners

FEMA’s existing relationships provided an effective framework to support state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) partners.

See more Supporting SLTT Partners findings

Organizational Resilience

FEMA responded to multiple disasters simultaneously.

See more Organizational Resilience findings

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the FEMA Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report?

FEMA assesses its operations to identify opportunities for improvements. The “Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act” also requires the agency to analyze real-world events to identify and disseminate lessons learned and best practices.

The report assesses FEMA’s COVID-19 response. The Initial Assessment Report identifies key findings in five areas: coordinating structures and policy; resources; supporting state, local, tribal and territorial partners; preparedness and information analysis; and organizational resilience. Findings from the report will be used to improve preparedness for pandemic incidents and other responses.

How was the report developed?

FEMA analyzed interview data, conducted detailed document reviews and engaged program office subject matter experts. The effort provided employees opportunities to contribute to the report. More than 4,400 employees contributed to an agency-wide staff survey, while 2,928 responses were also gathered from 14 surveys of the National Response Coordination Center. Additionally, FEMA conducted more than 240 personal interviews and 44 debriefings throughout FEMA regions and various task forces.

How is the report structured?

The report includes an executive summary and an overview of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. The introduction to federal operations provides a summary of the authorities and operating environment for a pandemic response and the scope, methodology and organization of the report. There are five evaluation areas where findings are presented. The report concludes with recommendations for how FEMA can improve its preparedness for pandemic incidents.

What are the key findings of the report?

The Initial Assessment Report identifies 32 key findings and 57 recommendations in five areas to prepare FEMA and the nation for future nationwide incidents and pandemics. Many of the findings pertained to supply chain issues and managing shortages. FEMA is recording lessons learned during the incident and strengthening its relationships with other federal agencies to make the process smoother in the future.

How will FEMA institutionalize the recommendations in the report?

The report will inform the FEMA Administrator's 2021 planning guidance and will prepare the agency for future pandemics. FEMA will also implement best practices from the Initial Assessment Report across the agency and share them with state, local, tribal and territorial partners, other federal agencies, and the wider emergency management community. FEMA's Continuous Improvement Program will track the recommendations and updates for the agency.