FEMA’s New (Interim) Policy – “COVID-19 Pandemic: Work Eligible for Public Assistance” – Changes for FEMA Category B work starting September 15, 2020

FEMA’s New (Interim) Policy – COVID-19 Pandemic: Work Eligible for Public AssistanceFEMA just released the interim “COVID-19 Pandemic: Work Eligible for Public Assistance (PA)” Policy dated September 1, 2020.  This new Policy is effective for work performed on or after September 15, 2020.  For all work performed on or before September 14, 2020, FEMA’s previous policies, guidance and fact sheets still apply.  As always, it recommended to submit claims for reimbursement in a timely manner consistent with all applicable deadlines.

Under this new Policy, FEMA will ONLY fund the PA Category B emergency protective measures for COVID-19 specific items enumerated in the policy, summarized as:

  • Medical care
  • Purchase and distribution of food
  • Pre-approved non-congregate medical sheltering
  • EOC operations for COVID-19
  • Communications for public information, risks, warnings, health, safety
  • Mass casualty management
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)[1], but only for work directly related to the performance of otherwise eligible emergency work (listed above) or provided to healthcare workers, first responders[2], or patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection.  This also includes funding for a 60-day stockpile of eligible PPE.

And equally important, the following items are only eligible IF related to the performance of the eligible work and/or in facilities where eligible work is being performed. In accordance with the items listed above:

  • Face masks: Both cloth and PPE
  • Temperature scanning
  • Disinfection, when in excess of current operating costs
  • Barriers/plexiglass
  • Law enforcement, security
  • Training
  • Labor: overtime, temp hires and contract labor
  • Transportation & storage of equipment and supplies
  • Other – again, directly tied to otherwise eligible emergency work listed above

Thus, for example, the purchase of PPE to protect teachers and students in educational facilities is not an eligible cost.  General disinfecting of fire stations or public buildings is not an eligible cost.  The new FEMA policy will change what is considered to be an eligible COVID-19 cost as of September 15th and is not retroactive for completed work.

As FEMA reminds applicants, there are other federal resources available to cover COVID-19 needs even if ineligible for FEMA PA Category B funding.  However, the work or purchases need to be eligible work under that funding authority and consistent with their applicable policies.

Lastly, if pre-September 15th eligible work is no longer eligible for FEMA PA Category B funding, the applicant must submit those costs to the appropriate federal agency (if covered) as again, FEMA will no longer cover them.

Any questions or specific issues regarding the Policy are to be directed to the appropriate FEMA Regional Office.

DEADLINES:  The incident period for all COVID-19 FEMA declarations is currently still open.  The deadlines for the FEMA PA Category B work have been extended beyond the regulatory six months from the date of their declaration.  FEMA said they will provide a 30-day notification when they are closing the eligible period of performance for completing eligible work.

IEM recommends that applicants should immediately evaluate their FEMA COVID-19 related work to be able to plan accordingly.

[1] Personal Protective Equipment or PPE refers to items such as N95 and other filtering respirators, surgical masks, gloves, protective eyewear, face shields, and protective clothing (e.g., gowns).

[2] First Responder refers to emergency public safety, fire, law enforcement, emergency response, emergency medical, and related personnel that may interact with individuals infected with, or suspected to be infected with, COVID-19