It’s been a long nine months since the novel coronavirus pandemic hit communities throughout the Midwest and across the country. In that time, federal agencies have supported local and state efforts to respond to the pandemic and bring needed money and resources to this national health crisis.
Since March 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), its public health component known as Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response (ASPR) and multiple other federal agencies to support a regional and national response to this pandemic, also known as COVID-19.
Today, FEMA Region 7’s efforts represent more than $1.3 billion in financial assistance to the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, local municipalities, tribal nations and certain private, non-profit organizations to help with the COVID-19 response.
Several initiatives and updates have occurred in the fall months alone. Here’s a look at some of the most recent efforts:
* Experts from the Department of Defense are partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other parts of HHS to coordinate supply, production and distribution of vaccines. HHS and CDC are working with Region 7 states to receive and execute vaccine delivery to priority groups.
* A joint HHS/FEMA Health Resiliency Task Force is working to help identify COVID-related issues and needs involving the region’s health care systems for which FEMA or HHS could provide support.
* A joint HHS/FEMA Schools Task Force developed a Be COVID Prepared toolkit that provides a guide for students, faculty and staff at colleges and universities detailing how to be better prepared to isolate or quarantine because of a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure. The task force is currently preparing a second information toolkit that shares resources to promote healthy minds, stress reduction and ways to combat COVID fatigue for colleges and universities in Region 7 states.
* National Guard support for all four Region 7 states has been extended to March 31, 2021 to continue assisting with the COVID-19 response being directed by the states’ governors in coordination with the U.S. Department of Defense. Guard members have been supporting state needs for COVID-19 since mid-April.
* The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is supporting the efforts of the Health Care Resiliency Task Force by monitoring the reliability of the health care sector, which is considered critical infrastructure.
By the Numbers
Here’s a breakdown of the major federal funding in support of COVID-19 operations in the FEMA Region 7 states and tribal nations since March 2020. All figures are as of Dec. 15, 2020 unless otherwise indicated.
* Public Assistance Grant Program: $339.4 million — 1,947 eligible PA applicants = 1,063 projects
* Individual Assistance Program: $835.5 million — Crisis Counseling: $25.7 million; Lost Wages program: $808.1 million
* Mission Assignments: $140.6 million — Note: Figure includes Title 32 Support for the National Guard
* Assistance to states for survivor supplies: $1.8 million
* Grand Total: $1.3 billion