A federal program that helps cover the funeral expenses of people who died from COVID-19 has been inundated with 130,000 applications, according to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
That staggering figure represents about 20 percent of the 570,000 Americans killed by the coronavirus.
The new federal reimbursement program had been championed by Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Chuck Schumer; it allows people whose relatives died of COVID-19 to collect upwards of $9,000 for funeral and burial costs.
AOC gave an update on the program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency during a virtual town hall meeting Friday night.
The congresswoman said the figures are preliminary and may include duplicative applications.
The federal program would help relatives of those who died from COVID-19 with funeral and burial expenses.MediaNews Group via Getty Images
But the stats show the COVID-19 funeral assistance program is hugely popular — and greatly needed, she said.
“The raw number represents 20 percent of the total death toll for COVID-19,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
She also reported that 13,000 applications were filed by New Yorkers seeking reimbursement for funeral expenses.
Family and friends attend a funeral of a New Mexico man who passed away from complications due to COVID-19.AFP via Getty Images
FEMA has already processed and mailed out reimbursement checks, AOC reported.
The COVID funeral assistance program launched April 13.
A casket being loaded into a hearse during a funeral procession in California for a person who passed away after contracting COVID-19.Getty Images
The lawmakers first announced the initiative in early February, saying that FEMA would be making available $2 billion in funeral assistance funds — with about $200 million expected to go to New Yorkers.
“We were the epicenter of the epicenter,” said AOC, describing how the COVID pandemic devastated the city and her own Queens-Bronx congressional district.