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What the COVID-19 major disaster declaration means for local governments

May 27, 2020 · Insights

On March 13, 2020, the President declared the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant an emergency declaration pursuant to Sec. 501(b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Now more than 50 states and territories have been declared a major disaster with an incident period of January 20, 2020 and continuing. This declaration makes Public Assistance (PA) funding available to state, territorial, tribal, and local government entities as well as certain private non-profit (PNP) organizations to help offset costs associated with the ongoing response to COVID-19.

What are eligible costs?
Costs potentially eligible for reimbursement under this disaster declaration are those related to FEMA Category B, Emergency Protective Measures. Some of the costs under Category B include, but are not limited to:

• Labor/supply costs associated with response to COVID-19
• Management, control, and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety
• Training specific to the declared event
• Disinfection of eligible public facilities
• Overtime paid to employees preparing for and responding to the declared event
• Security and law enforcement
• Communication of general health and safety information to the public
• Purchase and distribution of food, water, ice, medicine, and other consumable supplies, to include PPE

What should you do?
As you prepare to manage your response to COVID-19, you should begin tracking costs through your accounting software or other reliable means that can be documented. All expenses related to this event should be thoroughly recorded, especially the following:

• Labor
• Supplies
• Equipment

Can you hire a consultant to help us with this process?
Due to the demand on local government agencies in dealing with this crisis and informing the public of everchanging issues, in addition to the extreme complexity of the federal disaster reimbursement guidelines, FEMA subrecipients are encouraged to contract with an experienced consultant to provide oversight and direction on their behalf through the FEMA reimbursement process. Consultant costs are eligible for reimbursement under this event as Direct Administrative Costs (DAC).

For more information or assistance with the FEMA assistance process, contact Robert Ramsey, GMC’s Vice President of Disaster Recovery at 229.317.2282 (direct) or email

What the COVID-19 disaster declaration means for local governments (pdf)

FEMA & COVID-19: Preparing for Reimbursement (pdf)