FEMA now offering COVID-19 funeral assistance

Fraud Alert: FEMA has received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance. FEMA has not sent any such notifications and we do not contact people prior to them registering for assistance. Learn more here.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.

We are working with stakeholder groups to get their input on ways we can best provide this assistance, and to enlist their help with outreach to families and communities. FEMA will begin to implement COVID-19 funeral assistance in April.

Additional guidance is being finalized and will be released to potential applicants and community partners as soon as possible. In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation.

FEMA will begin accepting applications for Funeral Assistance on Monday, April 12, 2021 through our dedicated call center. More information will be available soon.

Who is Eligible?
To be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet these conditions:

• The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
• The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
• The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
• There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

How to Apply

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number

Applications begin on April 12, 2021
844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time

If you had COVID-19 funeral expenses, we encourage you to keep and gather documentation. Types of information should include:

• An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
• Funeral expenses documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that includes the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses happened.
• Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. We are not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

How Funds are Received
If you are eligible for funeral assistance you will receive a check by mail, or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you choose when you apply for assistance.




COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic to be held at Cape Cod Community College for all Veterans

The VA Providence Healthcare System will be providing COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans and their spouses this Saturday, April 10, 2021. The clinic will be located on the Cape Cod Community College campus 2240 Iyannough Rd, West Barnstable, MA. The clinic will run from 9am to 1pm.

“The VA has expanded the vaccination criteria and we are pleased to offer the vaccine to all Veterans and their spouses.” said Larry Connell, Medical Center Director, VA Providence Healthcare System. “There are many unenrolled Veterans on Cape Cod and we want to ensure we get them vaccinated. We will be giving out the Janssen vaccine which will not require those who come to the clinic to come back for a second dose.”

Veterans who are not enrolled in the VA Healthcare System will need to bring a copy of their DD214 and a picture ID and fill out a 1010EZ enrollment form. This form can be found at https://www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/10-10EZ-fillable.pdf. Forms will be available on-site for those who cannot bring it with them.

The VA Providence Healthcare System continues to vaccinate Veterans, Monday to Friday from 8am to 2pm at the main campus in Providence. Additional vaccination events are being planned, so if you cannot make this clinic there will be others coming soon.




Fully vaccinated population in Massachusetts nears 1.5 million

Colin A. Young
State House News Service

Nearly 1.5 million people in Massachusetts are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and almost 3 million vaccine doses have been administered here, but a potentially more contagious mutant form of the virus first identified in Brazil is now spreading through the state.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control counts 58 cases of the P.1 COVID-19 variant, which is thought to be more contagious and able to reinfect those who have already defeated the coronavirus, in Massachusetts — more than any other state in the country. This weekend, researchers from MIT’s Broad Institute and Harvard released data detailing 54 of the Massachusetts cases of the P.1 variant, which was first identified here in a Barnstable County woman who tested positive for COVID-19 in late February. They found that 43 of the 54 P.1 cases were likely connected to one superspreader event.

“While our understanding of the increased transmissibility of the P.1 variant is still unfolding, the large cluster of identical and nearly identical genomes – a pattern of genetic diversity consistent with superspreading – highlights the ongoing risk of rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, and in particular for more transmissible lineages,” the researchers wrote. “The extent of community transmission of P.1 in Massachusetts and across the US is currently unknown, however, it is likely that the P.1 variant is already or will soon be circulating in communities and ongoing surveillance will be critical to understanding the trajectory and impact of the P.1 variant.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported 2,263 new cases of COVID-19 and announced 30 recent COVID-19 deaths on Saturday, raising the state’s total case count to 605,055 and the death toll to 17,281 people. There were 707 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Saturday’s update from DPH. Figures that would have been reported Sunday will be released Monday afternoon, DPH has said. Though there was no reporting of new cases and deaths Sunday, DPH did report that the number of people fully vaccinated in Massachusetts had climbed to 1,478,520 with 3,904,179 total vaccine doses administered.




Massachusetts receives approval for the Hynes Convention Center to be designated as mass vaccination site

“The federal/state partnership launches this week with FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal partners and will bring 6,000 additional daily vaccine doses to Massachusetts and will help reinforce the Commonwealth’s focus on vaccine access and equity.

Yesterday MEMA Director Samantha Phillips joined Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary Sudders, Senator Markey, Congressman Lynch, CDC Director Dr. Walensky, FEMA Administrator Fenton, FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Ford and others to tour the expanded site.

All eligible people in Massachusetts can continue to access appointments at the Hynes through the preregistration process.

Learn more about preregistration: http://mass.gov/vaxsignup
Sign up to be notified about appointments: https://vaccinesignup.mass.gov”-Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).




New Bedford establishes waterfront vaccination center for essential seafood industry workers

Mayor Jon Mitchell, joined by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Bill Keating, and members of the City Council and state legislative delegation, announced today that the City of New Bedford has established a waterfront vaccination center to vaccinate essential seafood industry workers.

The site is located at the former Environmental Protection Agency’s Dewatering Facility on the waterfront, recently turned over to the New Bedford Port Authority by the EPA. It will launch in the coming weeks with additional vaccine supply and through a partnership with the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center.

New Bedford has implemented protections for essential workers since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, Mayor Mitchell announced that the City would offer a free mask, produced at Joseph Abboud Manufacturing Corp. in New Bedford’s North End, to any city resident who wanted one.

On May 6, 2020, Mayor Mitchell and the Board of Health announced strong workplace safety standards, including a special industrial workplace order, ensuring stringent health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among essential workers in the seafood processing industry.

The waterfront vaccination center will be operated as a partnership between the City and the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, which will staff the vaccination site. The Greater New Bedford Community Health Center recently received an award of nearly $4 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) as part of the American Rescue Plan to support its work, including direct receipt of vaccine, which makes possible the operation of this site.

“New Bedford’s essential seafood processing workforce plays a vital role in feeding the United States and distributing seafood from America’s top commercial fishing port. It is critical that we continue to do everything we can to keep essential workers safe and support the equitable distribution of vaccines,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “I am grateful to Senator Warren, Senator Markey, and Congressman Keating for their advocacy in securing these critical funds for New Bedford, which the Community Health Center, under the leadership of Cheryl Bartlett, will use to protect our residents and our essential workers.”

The site is expected to open in early April and to handle at least 125 vaccinations per hour, with the ability to vaccinate up to 800 to 1,000 people per day. Further details about hours of operation and signup steps will be announced ahead of the center’s opening in collaboration with the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center. Through coordination with employers, essential seafood industry workers will be scheduled for their COVID-19 vaccinations at the site. It is located on the New Bedford waterfront in close proximity to many of the city’s seafood processing facilities.




New Bedford NAACP urges faster action on COVID-19 vaccination

In a statement released today, The New Bedford Branch of the NAACP is calling on elected officials and area residents to accelerate efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

New Bedford continues to report among the highest total number of infected individuals in the Commonwealth, at over 12,000 each. Yet, the number of vaccines arriving in our city is woefully inadequate: only 600 vaccines are provided each week, according to the city’s health department for a population of almost 100,000. The city is classified as in the red – highest risk – zone.

Additionally, people of color are being vaccinated at a slower pace than others. The result is that, while the percentage of coronavirus cases in the white community is a smaller number to the overall population, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians suffered infection disproportionately, with rates much higher than their proportion of the population.

Acknowledging that people of color are scheduling vaccine shots at a much lower rate than the overall population due to suspicions about the safety of the inoculations, NB NAACP urges better outreach to those communities. Additionally, public vaccination sites are sometimes difficult for residents to reach, especially those of low income. Shots should be available wherever residents regularly receive healthcare, from providers they know.

In addition to making vaccinations more accessible, involving trusted providers would help to significantly reduce the skepticism that helps lead to low vaccination rates.

Renee Ledbetter, Vice President of the New Bedford Branch said, “This is a matter of life and death. We have to be sure to do our part to stem this deadly disease. The end is in sight, but will remain out of reach if strong action isn’t taken by the Commonwealth and residents immediately.”

She continued, “We call on our elected officials and the Governor to speed the number of vaccinations available, to make them more accessible to the public, and to make increased efforts in communities of color to educate the public and urge residents to vaccinate.”




Bristol County Savings Bank grants $100,000 to nine New Bedford, Fall River and R.I. non-profits impacted by COVID-19

Bristol County Savings Bank, utilizing funding obtained through Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) Boston’s Jobs for New England Recovery Grant Program, has awarded a total of $100,000 to nine non-profit organizations within the communities the Bank serves that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

As an FHLBank Boston member institution, Bristol County Savings Bank was allowed to submit an online application and provide a list of targeted grantees to access up to $100,00 in grant funds for community-based non-profit organizations from the New England Recovery Grant Program. Funds could be used for working capital purposes, including payroll, required COVID-19 related expenditures, debt service, utilities and inventory. The Bank was required to certify that each non-profit had been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Though the Jobs for New England Recovery Program and Bristol County Savings Bank, the non-profits that received grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 are: Taunton Area – Taunton Business Improvement District made through its partner organization Downtown Taunton Foundation; Attleboro Area – New Hope, Inc. and Southeastern Massachusetts Arts Collaborative-SMARTS; Fall River Area – Children’s Museum of Fall River, Narrows Center for the Arts and Southeastern Massachusetts SER-Jobs for Progress; New Bedford Area – Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford and Immigrants’ Assistance Center; and Rhode Island – Pawtucket Central Falls Development.

“Thanks to FHLBank Boston and its Jobs for New England Recovery Grant Program, we continue to address the multiple repercussions of the pandemic in our community and be there for our local non-profit partners when they need us most,” said Pat Murray, President and CEO of Bristol County Savings Bank.




Acushnet Fire Chief Gallagher pleased with town’s “dramatic improvement” with COVID cases

“A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF:

“Last week, we tested 101 individuals for Covid 19. Only one positive case was reported by the lab! From where we were just a few weeks ago, this is a dramatic improvement.

“As a hockey Dad I can not count the times we started celebrating a win too early. My son’s coach would tell the team the game isn’t over until after the final horn sounds.

“That is wise advice as we continue to fight this virus. Numbers are improving but can spike quickly. It is up to each and every one of us to play through the final horn. Keep your mask on, keep social distanced, keep doing all those things that resulted in just one Acushnet resident getting “the” phone call this weekend.”-Kevin.





Massachusetts Officials announce first case of P.1 COVID-19 variant; urge continued protective measures

The Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that the first case of the P.1 COVID-19 variant of concern, which originated in Brazil, has been detected in Massachusetts. The individual is a woman in her 30s who resides in Barnstable County.

DPH was notified of her test results from genetic sequencing conducted through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national surveillance system. Currently, there is no information available on the woman’s illness or whether she has recently traveled. She tested positive for COVID-19 in late February.

As of today, there have been 213 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, originally found in the United Kingdom, and 6 cases of the B.1.351, which originated in South Africa, reported in Massachusetts. The B.1.1.7 variant is known to spread more easily and has caused a rapid surge of cases in the UK, several other countries, and parts of the United States.
 
The best defense against variants of concern is to prevent the spread of COVID.
 
This includes wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding groups, staying home when you are sick, getting tested if you have symptoms or are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID, and getting vaccinated when it is your turn.
 
Learn more about variants of concern at New Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19 | CDC and track their presence in both Massachusetts and the US at US COVID-19 Cases Caused by Variants | CDC.




New Bedford’s 25th annual “Day Of Portugal” canceled due to COVID-19

The popular “Day Of Portugal” celebration has been delighting locals for well over two decades. Last year at this time organizers canceled the celebration and most of us at that time thought that COVID would pass in a few weeks or months.

Unfortunately, the Day Of Portugal, or as some colloquially call “The Mini-Feast,” has been canceled for a second year in the best interest of “..safety and well-being of the population as well as the restrictions imposed by the authorities,” according to Dulce Matos, president of the New Bedford Day of Portugal Committee.

“Given the continuing situation we are all experiencing due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I regret to have to inform you that the Day of Portugal celebrations in New Bedford, scheduled for June 11, 12, and 13, 2021, are canceled.”

Certainly not news anyone wanted to hear, especially considering that the larger Feast of the Blessed Sacrament has not made an official statement on whether there will be a “Feast” this year. A year after COVID first reared its head, most of us were looking for some normalcy after months of lockdowns, stay-at-home advisories, social distancing, and having healthy interactions with others rescheduled or canceled altogether.

Every June tens of thousands of people from the South Coast and beyond eagerly look forward to the “Day Of Portugal” celebration, a chance to soak in Portuguese history, music, culture, and of course, cuisine. Alas, we’ll all have to wait until next in when Matos hopes the event “…will return stronger than ever in 2022.”

Assuming we are not in a lockdown because of COVID-20.

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