ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - Families of more than 560,000 Americans have had to bury their loved ones who died from COVID-19.
Those families can now apply for federal aid to get reimbursed for funeral expenses.
Kimberly Elise recently applied to FEMA’s COVID-19 funeral assistance program after losing her uncle to the deadly virus.
“For us, everything happened really spur of the moment," Elise said. "It was kind of crazy because he died in January, and I had just seen him for Christmas.”
The unexpected death presented an unexpected financial burden. Family members paid almost $7,000 for her uncle Eugene’s funeral.
“As everyone knows, funerals are expensive. He died all of a sudden," Elise said. "He didn’t have any kind of life insurance, so we just incurred all of these expenses. So it’s like, now you have to pay thousands and thousands of dollars.”
FEMA is now accepting applications through a toll-free hotline, offering up to $9,000 per funeral to ease the financial burden on families.
“I was really relieved - like, wow, we can actually have help,” Elise said.
Elise applied last week when FEMA first announced the program.
“We had to turn in a death certificate, a receipt from the funeral home and then documentation proving his cause of death was from COVID-19," she explained.
The phone number for applying is 844-684-6333. Applicants must also show funeral expense documents and receipts.