FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance topic of online town hall

FEMA administrator, tribal officials scheduled to take part

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Luminarias light the Veterans Memorial Park in Window Rock, Ariz., on March 17, 2021, during an event to remember members of the Navajo Nation who died of COVID-19.

FARMINGTON — An online town hall planned for the evening of Monday, June 14 will provide information about a federal resource to help families with COVID-19-related funeral expenses.

The Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President is organizing the town hall to provide an overview of the Federal Emergency Management Agency COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

Congress authorized FEMA to assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation incurred after Jan. 20, 2020. Applicants may receive assistance for expenses related to multiple COVID-19 deaths, according to the agency's website.

The assistance is funded through two coronavirus relief packages, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.

FEMA started accepting applications in April through a dedicated call center.

Scheduled to participate in the town hall are FEMA Region 9 Administrator Robert J. Fenton and personnel from the tribe's Division of Social Services.

Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President employees and volunteers set up luminarias on March 17, 2021, for an event in Window Rock, Ariz., to remember tribal members who died of COVID-19.

The division started a burial assistance resource to aid tribal members with funeral costs during the pandemic.

FEMA Region 9 serves 150 tribal nations, including the Navajo Nation.

The town hall will be streamed at 6 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on June 14 on the Nez-Lizer Facebook page and on YouTube under the Navajo Nation OPVP Communications name.

"Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have lost more than 1,300 of our people to COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation. The pandemic has brought grief and financial burden for many of our Navajo families. With the assistance of FEMA, we strongly encourage families who incurred expenses for COVID-19 related funeral expenses to apply through FEMA for financial assistance," tribal President Jonathan Nez said in the press release from his office.

The Window Rock formation is seen on March 17, 2021, during an event to remember members of the Navajo Nation who died of COVID-19.

There have been 1,334 deaths related to COVID-19 for the tribe as of June 11, according to the Navajo Department of Health.

The town hall also will be broadcast later in the week on local radio stations, according to the release.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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