WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sending Rhode Island a $13,356,528 check this month to reimburse the state for the costs of protecting the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.  With this latest reimbursement, FEMA has now provided Rhode Island $543,795,428 in federal funding for emergency COVID-19 response costs.  And thanks to U.S. Senator Jack Reed’s leadership, Rhode Island taxpayers have saved $135,948,857 in costs that otherwise would have been incurred by the state.  Senator Reed successfully advocated for the federal government to provide a 100 percent cost share, instead of requiring the state to foot 25 percent of the tab.

FEMA awarded the latest reimbursement funds to the Rhode Island Department of Health for emergency protective measure to cover the cost of providing COVID-19 test kits, sample collection services, and lab processing of tests at no cost to the public.  To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Rhode Island Department of Health used contracted services to establish a temporary facility to operate a case investigation center for the identification and investigation of patients with confirmed and probable diagnoses of COVID-19.  The state provided temporary staff including doctors, nurses, case investigators, and epidemiologists to support case investigation, community mitigation, data analytics and modeling, the COVID-19 hotline and inbound call center, and epidemiology operations.

In 2020, then-President Trump issued a disaster declaration to free up federal aid to help state agencies and municipalities defray the cost of fighting COVID-19.  Under this declaration, FEMA reimbursed up to 75 percent of approved emergency costs for pandemic response public services. But despite repeated requests from Congress and from Governors of both parties, Trump refused to provide cost-share relief.

After President Biden was elected, Senator Reed helped successfully advocate for the federal government to pick up the full tab.  President Biden directed FEMA to raise its reimbursement rate for states, territories, and localities for emergency COVID-19 costs from 75 percent to 100 percent to help better manage the pandemic response and defray the mounting bills for states.

“When the pandemic hit, Rhode Islanders worked together to keep each other safe and I did everything I could at the federal level to ensure Rhode Island had the resources to effectively respond to this crisis, recover from it, and cover the emergency costs,” said Senator Reed.  “The Biden Administration rightly answered the call to waive FEMA’s cost share requirement and ensure Rhode Island had needed resources for testing and vaccine distribution.   That proved to be a major boost to the health and safety of our residents and has saved Rhode Island $136 million and counting in costs.”

The President’s authorized provision of FEMA Public Assistance at 100 percent federal funding expired on July 1, 2022.  States must now provide a 10 percent match for emergency COVID-19 response costs incurred after July 2, 2022.