May 13, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has introduced a bill that would require the federal government to cover the funeral expenses of coronavirus victims.
The COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Act would require FEMA to provide $10,000 to the families of deceased COVID-19 victims to cover the costs associated with taking care of their remains.
Ocasio-Cortez introduced the bill with California Congresswoman Barbara Lee yesterday, which was sponsored by 12 other House Members including Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng. The bill is not part of the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which was unveiled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday.
Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York’s 14th Congressional district–the hardest-hit district by COVID-19 in the nation, said she introduced the bill because the virus had disproportionately impacted low-income communities.
She said that funeral expenses can add an additional burden on these families who are already financially strained. Ocasio-Cortez said that covering these costs is the “absolute least” the government can do to help them out.
“It is the very core, basic measure of human dignity,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement.
“And in the richest country in the world, we should be able to allow people to bury their loved ones in dignity,” she said.
If enacted, the bill would create a COVID-19 Burial Fund that would be run and administered by FEMA. The funds would be distributed to families that do not have insurance to cover such expenses.
Under the proposed legislation, families of undocumented immigrants would also qualify for the funds.
The money would be backdated to January 21, 2020 to account for those who have already been buried, according to the legislation.
More than 20,000 New York City residents have lost their lives due to COVID-19 complications since the outbreak began.