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New York Lawmakers Call for Federal Aid for Burials

Funeral director Tom Cheeseman, left, and a colleague wear personal protective equipment due to COVID-19 concerns as they deliver a body to a funeral home, April 3, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

New York Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Tuesday called on the federal government to provide funding for funeral and burial assistance across New York state.

At a news conference in Ocasio-Cortez's district, in the Queens borough of New York City, the two lawmakers said the use of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Funeral Assistance program would help low-income communities and communities of color afford to bury loved ones who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They argued that New York and especially Ocasio-Cortez's district in Queens and the Bronx have been the hardest hit by COVID-19.

Schumer, who is the U.S. Senate minority leader, noted FEMA helped pay for funerals in the wake of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which struck parts of New York.

President Donald Trump approved a Major Disaster Declaration on March 20, but FEMA must approve special funeral assistance, which is currently under review.

Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez called for swift approval to help struggling families hit by the pandemic crisis.