Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked the federal government to help pay for funerals for the state's thousands of dead.
The two Democrats appeared together in the hard-hit neighborhood of Corona, Queens, part of Ocasio-Cortez’s district, to ask the Federal Emergency Management Administration to approve disaster funeral assistance across New York.
“It’s bad enough people are losing their jobs, and don’t have food to eat, are separated from their families and loved ones,” Schumer said. “But to not be able to give a decent funeral and burial to someone who is near and dear to you is outrageous.”
Ocasio-Cortez said the coronavirus is “decimating an already vulnerable community” and funeral costs are one more burden.
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday, Schumer noted that FEMA's funds have been used for the funeral costs of those who lost their lives during Super Storm Sandy. The death toll during the 2012 storm was under 300. As of Tuesday, nearly 26,000 people across the United States have died from the coronavirus, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.
The total number of COVID-19 cases has also topped 608,000 as of Tuesday night, with 25 of the cases being FEMA employees, sources told NBC News.
If FEMA is unable to cover the funeral costs, Schumer said that he will put it in the next coronavirus relief bill.
"Corona struck so hard on communities of color, on poor people," Schumer said. "And one of the worst indignities that a family can have is a loved one that passes away and you can't give them a decent funeral or a decent burial."