While the vaccine is now available for all Pennsylvanians ages five and older, the toll COVID-19 has taken on human life remains staggering. Sadly, the virus has killed more than 864,000 Americans since March 2020, including nearly 40,000 Pennsylvanians.
No amount of money can ease the pain of losing a loved one to COVID, but government assistance may be available to ease the financial burden an unexpected death from the disease can cause.
Locally, Congresswoman Susan Wild is working to help spread the word about it.
Wild (D-7), represents the Lehigh Valley in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she helped pass the American Rescue Plan last year.
“Thousands of members of our community … (have) experienced unimaginable grief on top of the already difficult pandemic,” said Wild of the emotional toll COVID deaths have taken on many residents of the district. “In response, (Congress) passed the American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed into law last year, to provide everyone a safe and accessible vaccine, support our small businesses, safely reopen schools, and also to relieve financial burdens for the most impacted families in our community.”
Wild said that under the plan, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is accepting applications to help cover the cost of funerals for COVID-19 victims and will pay up to $9,000 in costs per funeral, or up to $35,000 per application. The allocated funds will cover expenses such as caskets, urns, burial plots, cremation and more.
Area residents can apply for COVID-19 related funeral assistance and learn more about it on FEMA’s website or call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 844-684-6333.
Wild noted in her news release that the majority of hospitalizations in the state are among unvaccinated patients and those who remain unvaccinated have a higher risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death, which is why being vaccinated is strongly recommended and still the best way to protect yourself and others from the disease.
She added that she hopes people won’t need to rely on FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program, but that her office is available to help if they do.
More information is available by contacting one of Wild’s three local offices at the following numbers: 484-781-6000 in Allentown, 570-807-0333 in Stroudsburg or 610-333-1170 in Easton.