The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to evaluate whether it can implement a federal program designed to reimburse COVID-19-related burial costs.
Supervisor Hilda Solis asked county CEO Fesia Davenport to see whether the requirements set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency could be met.
"To date, there have been over 17,000 families grieving the loss of family members who died of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County. Their profound grief is often compounded by the fact they cannot afford the significant costs of their loved one's burial,'' Solis said.
Families have had to organize car wash fundraisers, food sales and GoFundMe campaigns to raise the money to lay loved ones to rest, she said.
"From East Los Angeles to communities in the San Gabriel Valley, I have heard from so many of my constituents, as well as staff at funeral homes, of this real and devastating toll on families,'' Solis said.
The coronavirus relief package enacted in December sets aside $2 billion for financial help for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, without a state match or cost sharing, according to Solis.
FEMA is still reviewing the legislation and working out implementation, but Solis said time is of the essence and the county has a responsibility to help provide for proper burials.
Solis did not provide any additional details, but Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of New York, held a news conference Monday to announce that low-income families in that state would be entitled to up to $7,000 in reimbursements.
Supervisor Holly Mitchell suggested that the county start educating residents about the potential need for documentation even before plans for any program are finalized. That way, families can begin the time-consuming process of seeking a death certificate and know to hold on to records of their expenses.