Schumer, AOC seek federal help to pay for New York COVID-19 victim funerals

Healthcare workers transfer a body at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York
FILE PHOTO: Healthcare workers transfer the body of a deceased person onto a stretcher at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, April 8. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The Federal Emergency Management Agency should grant immediate approval for “disaster funeral assistance” in New York to help families of those who died from coronavirus pay for their funerals, according to Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“Families across New York, and right here in Queens, are already paying the ultimate price with the tragic loss of their loved ones to the coronavirus,” said Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez in a joint statement. “That is why FEMA must do the right thing during this crisis, exactly what they did after Hurricane Sandy, and deliver special funds to New York families faced with mounting funeral and burial costs they simply cannot afford.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s 14th Congressional District, which covers Queens and the Bronx, has suffered greatly from the coronavirus outbreak. Many of the communities in the district include low-income residents and persons of color.

One such neighborhood in AOC’s district — Corona, Queens — has the highest number of positive COVID-19 tests of any ZIP code in the country. Half of the top 10 ZIP codes with the most coronavirus infections are in the 14th Congressional District of New York.

Moreover, the Bronx has the highest death rate from coronavirus complications of any New York City borough.

Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez want FEMA to activate the Individuals and Households Program under the federal disaster declaration that President Trump signed on March 20. This includes financial aid to cover for funeral-related expenses such as casket purchases, mortuary services, death certificates, and cremation or interment.