NEW JERSEY — Bipartisan Members of New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation are urging Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reverse a new policy stipulating the agency will no longer provide emergency reimbursement for school systems and local governments for cloth masks used in schools, disinfection services for schools and other public facilities, thermometers, physical barriers, or PPE for teachers, medical staff, and other public workers.
“As we anticipate a potential second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the fall, we urge you to reverse this harmful policy,” the Members wrote in a letter to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor. “As many students and teachers across our state and our country head back to school, FEMA’s policy will likely make it harder for state and local governments. This will hamstring efforts to slow the spread of the virus and prolong this pandemic.”
The interim policy, set to go into effect September 15, 2020, will limit reimbursement only to certain emergency protective measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, disinfection of schools and other public facilities, PPE for public employees including teachers, medical staff, and election workers, the purchase of thermometers and other physical barriers, and the distribution of cloth face masks will no longer qualify for emergency response reimbursement. FEMA will also now limit funding for the storage of a stockpile of PPE to up to sixty days from the date of purchase.
The letter to FEMA is signed by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Donald Norcross (NJ-1), Andy Kim (NJ-3), Chris Smith (NJ-4), Frank Pallone (NJ-6), Tom Malinowski (NJ-7), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12).