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

Applicant Briefings for FEMA-4496-DR-MA

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. Elements of the grant process include:

  • Applicants’ Briefing:  MEMA held 5 virtual webinar briefings for potential Public Assistance applicants to learn more about the program and eligibility requirements. Recordings of the briefings, copies of the presentation slides, and written Question and Answers from each briefing are available on the Applicant Briefing section of MEMA’s website.
  • 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.


State Workbook 2020

VIDEO: Variable Workbook Instruction


Category Z Management Cost Workbook - 2020

VIDEO: Category Z Management Cost Instruction

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


All questions regarding general guidance, cost tracking and eligibility, and the FEMA Public Assistance (PA) program and process may be submitted to MEMA by clicking the following link:

Submit Question to the MEMA Recovery Team

Long URL:

Eligible Costs

To learn more about eligible costs under the COVID-19 Major Disaster Declaration and see related policies, forms, and guidance, see: Eligible Costs for COVID-19 Federal Disaster Declaration.


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


FEMA will be offering upcoming webinars that are tailored towards State/local/Tribal/Territorial (SLTT), PNP’s and FEMA staff.

Grants Portal Applicant Basics webinars will include:

  • Register and set up a new Grants Portal account
  • Submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA)
  • Upload documents and create tiles

COVID-19 Application Overview webinars will include:

  • COVID-19 process flow
  • Streamlined Project Application in Grants Portal
  • COVID-19 documentation and forms


Upcoming FEMA Webinars
Times Dates       Webinar Meeting Information
  5/26/20 5/27/20 5/28/20 5/29/20    
10am EDT *   *   COVID-19 Application Overview Meeting ID: 160 295 7382 Password: 572060
10am EDT   *   * Grants Portal Applicant Basics
Meeting ID: 161 907 9197 Password: 564786
2pm EDT * * * * Grants Portal Applicant Basics
Meeting ID: 160 138 8701 Password: 564786
4pm EDT * * * * COVID-19 Application Overview Meeting ID: 160 456 1834 Password: 572060      
7pm EDT *       Grants Portal Applicant Basics
Meeting ID: 160 532 6417 Password: 564786

To join a webinar, click the corresponding link above at the designated time and enter the unique meeting password.
Please sign in with your full name, organization, state, tribe, and/or territory for tracking purposes. Sessions may be recorded.

If you have trouble logging in, try going to Choose “Join Meeting,” enter the meeting ID and then the password when
prompted. You may sign into Zoom as a guest. Your Zoom log-in information is unique from your Grants Portal log-in information.

If you have questions, please email
or call the Grants Manager/Portal Hotline at (866) 337-8448.



For MEMA Applicant Briefing Webinars, please see the Applicant Briefings for FEMA-4496-DR-MA section near the top of this page.


Please see recordings of prior webinars below:

Training Resources