COVID-19 Federal Disaster Declaration

Federal aid will be available to cities and towns, state agencies and certain non-profits in all Massachusetts counties to help pay for emergency protective measures (response costs) related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Table of Contents

Declaration Information

On March 27, 2020, the President declared a Major Disaster Declaration for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, DR-4496, related to the COVID-19 pandemic response. This declaration supersedes the previous Emergency Declaration, EM-3438, granted to the Commonwealth of MA by the President on March 13, 2020. The Major Disaster Declaration, like the Emergency Declaration, authorizes only Category B, Emergency Protective Measures; making federal funding available to local governments, state agencies, and eligible private non-profit organizations in all counties. The incident period is from January 20, 2020 and continuing.

Applicants that have already submitted a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) under the Emergency Declaration EM-3438 do not have to resubmit under Major Disaster Declaration DR-4496. All RPAs submitted under EM-3438 will automatically be transferred to DR-4496.

It is important that applicants track their costs for the duration of the response to be ready to submit backup documentation for reimbursement once the crisis has passed. In addition to tracking eligible response costs, applicants should also track their direct and indirect administrative costs, as Category Z management costs will also be eligible for reimbursement under DR-4496. For more information on Category Z costs, see our FEMA Public Assistance webpage.

CRISIS COUNSELING: The Major Disaster Declaration also included the Crisis Counseling Program of FEMA's Individual Assistance Program. The Crisis Counseling Assistance program will be managed by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH). If you are looking for crisis counseling information, see the DMH webpage: COVID-19 Information about DMH programs and services.

Additional Resources

About the Public Assistance Program

After a disaster, MEMA works with local, state, and federal partners to identify assistance programs that may be available.

FEMA’s PA Grant Program reimburses state, local, and tribal government and certain types of private non-profit organizations (applicants) for certain types of disaster-related costs, including eligible costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities and the facilities of some Private Non-Profit (PNP) organizations. The PA Program also encourages protection of damaged buildings from future events through post disaster hazard mitigation grants.

Reimbursements are typically 75% of eligible costs, with the remaining 25% cost being the applicant’s responsibility.

Public Assistance Grant Process

For the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, FEMA has announced a Simplified Public Assistance application process. This process will empower applicants to drive their own recovery and directly apply for assistance through FEMA’s PA Grants Portal. More information will be available as this simplified function comes online. Other elements of the grant process include:

  • Applicants’ Briefing:  MEMA will announce details of scheduled applicant briefings. Agencies or organizations who may apply for PA attend to learn about the eligibility requirements and what costs may be reimbursed by the federal government. The COVID-19 Applicant Briefings have not yet been scheduled.
  • Request for Public Assistance (RPA): Potential applicants complete an application to make an official request for PA. The RPA is submitted electronically through the FEMA Grants Portal system (see below).
  • Project formulation: The applicant provides detailed documentation on scope(s) of work and cost(s) incurred for the project.
  • Project review: Federal and state officials review documentation and validate costs that are eligible for reimbursement.
  • Obligation: FEMA funds are sent to the State and the State pays each applicant through a state contract process.
  • Project closeout: Applicants submit all required documentation and certify all work was completed in accordance with necessary federal, state and local laws and regulations.

FEMA Grants Portal

FEMA has developed a new Public Assistance grant administration process in order to encourage transparency, consistency, and accountability. This new delivery model utilizes a web-based grants management system were all grant related documentation will flow. The Portal will be used to submit the Request for Public Assistance (RPA), identify and upload costs, upload required backup documentation, and track the status of all projects.

To request access to FEMA PA Grants Portal, please fill out the spreadsheet (Grants Portal Registration Request Form) and send to

Additional Resources

Expedited Funding for COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, an Applicant may have a need for immediate funding to conduct response activities that address a threat. The below FEMA Job Aid describes how an expedited project is funded and other requirements.

Applicants that have a need for immediate funding in order to continue response activities related to COVID-19 can submit an application for an Expedited Project through the following link:

Additional Resources


All questions regarding cost tracking and eligibility may be submitted to MEMA by clicking the following link:

Submit a Cost Tracking and Eligibility Question

Long URL:

Eligible Costs

Under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration, emergency protective measures (response costs) including, but not limited to, the following, may be eligible for reimbursement through FEMA or other federal agencies. It is important that applicants track their costs for the duration of the response to be ready to submit for reimbursement once the crisis has passed. Costs will be evaluated at that time and routed to the appropriate federal agency for reimbursement.

  • Management, control and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety:
    • Emergency Operation Center costs
    • Training specific to the declared event. This may include PPE training, medical shelter operations, etc.
    • Disinfection of eligible public facilities
    • Technical assistance to local governments or eligible PNPs on emergency management and control of immediate threats to public health and safety
  • Emergency medical care:
    • Non‐deferrable medical treatment of infected persons in a shelter or temporary medical facility
    • Related medical facility services and supplies
    • Temporary medical facilities and/or enhanced medical/hospital capacity (for treatment when existing facilities are reasonably forecasted to become overloaded in the near term and cannot accommodate the patient load or to quarantine potentially infected persons)
    • Use of specialized medical equipment
    • Medical waste disposal
    • Emergency medical transport
    • For more information, see FEMA's Emergency Medical Care webpage.
  • Medical sheltering (e.g. when existing facilities are reasonably forecasted to become overloaded in the near future and cannot accommodate needs)
    • All sheltering must be conducted in accordance with standards and/or guidance approved by HHS/CDC and must be implemented in a manner that incorporates social distancing measures
    • For non‐congregate medical sheltering see detailed section below.
  • Household pet sheltering and containment actions related to household pets in accordance with CDC guidelines
  • Purchase and distribution of food, water, ice, medicine, and other consumable supplies, to include personal protective equipment and hazardous material suits
  • Movement of supplies and persons
  • Security and law enforcement
  • Communications of general health and safety information to the public
  • Search and rescue to locate and recover members of the population requiring assistance

Additional Resources

Non-Congregate Medical Sheltering Guidance for Applicants

FEMA has issue approval of non-congregate sheltering for the state and local governments for the individuals meeting the following criteria:

  • First responders and healthcare workers who need to quarantine safely without exposing their families;
  • Homeless families, with at least one member who tested positive for COVID-19, who live in congregate shelters and will require isolation; and
  • Homeless individuals who require quarantine or isolation.
  • If you have a question about sheltering other populations, please click the link below to submit a question.


  • FEMA approval is limited to emergency non-congregate sheltering costs that are reasonable and necessary to address the public health needs resulting from FEMA-3438-EM-MA.
  • FEMA approval is limited to costs associated with sheltering individuals through April 30, 2020, unless the public health needs should sooner terminate. The Applicant must obtain FEMA’s approval for any time extensions, which should include a detailed justification for the continuing need for emergency non-congregate sheltering.
  • FEMA approval is limited to costs associated with the provision and operation of emergency non-congregate shelters and does not include the approval of costs for the conversion of the proposed or any other facility for emergency medical care. Minor repairs or upgrades to existing facilities are fine, anything beyond that please click the link below and ask a question.
  • The state and local governments must follow FEMA’s Procurement Under Grants Conducted Under Exigent or Emergency Circumstances guidance and include a termination for convenience clause in its contracts for sheltering and related services, such as food, security services, and care for those with disabilities or access and functional needs.
  • FEMA will not approve Public Assistance funding that duplicates funding by another federal agency, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • State and local governments must comply with, and enable FEMA to comply with, applicable environmental and historic preservation laws, regulations, and executive orders or funding may be jeopardized.

The Applicant must maintain tracking mechanisms to provide sufficient data and documentation to establish the eligibility of costs for which it is requesting Public Assistance funding (including the need for non-congregate sheltering of each individual, length of stay, and costs). As with any activity, lack of sufficient support documentation may result in FEMA determining that some or all of the costs are ineligible.  If you have any question click here.

Additional Resources

Types of Eligible Costs

  • Force Account Labor (Permanent, Part-time, Seasonal, Re-assigned, Disaster Hires, Backfill Employees)
    • Overtime costs only for regularly budgeted staff
  • Force Account Equipment and Leased Equipment
  • Material (Purchased supplies and/or taken from stock)
  • Contract Services
  • Mutual Aid - mutual aid agreement must reference compensation


Current Federal procurement standards (found at 2 C.F.R. § 200.320(f)(2)) allow non-state entities to noncompetitively procure contracts (i.e., sole-sourcing) under certain emergency or exigent circumstances. FEMA defines an emergency or exigent circumstances as unexpected and unusually dangerous situations requiring immediate action or an urgent need for assistance or relief.  For additional information regarding procurement requirements, please refer to the FEMA - Procurement During Emergency Circumstances Fact Sheet.

Additional Resources


MEMA will be presenting a webinar for Local Governments who are considering standing up their own COVID Isolation and Quarantine  Non-Congregate Medical Shelter (hotel or dorm style).

Please register for Non-Congregate Medical Sheltering Eligibility & Questions on Apr 10, 2020 1:00 PM EDT at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar and a calendar invite.


The FEMA Public Assistance: Expedited Projects Webinar from Thursday April 9th at 3:30 PM will be uploaded soon. Please check back for updates.


Please see recordings of prior webinars below:

Training Resources