HCN News & Notes

FEMA Awards More Than $1.5 Million to Massachusetts for COVID-19 Call Center

BOSTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will send more than $1.5 million to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to reimburse it for the cost of operating a public information hotline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will receive a total of $1,548,332 in federal funding through FEMA’s Public Assistance grant program to reimburse the cost of administering expanded call capabilities for its 211 call center.

Between March 2020 and July 2021, the department contracted services to expand cellular communications for its call center, which provided real-time COVID information, resources, and referrals in multiple languages. With this expanded access to 24/7 information, Massachusetts residents were able to receive critical information related to COVID prevention, symptoms, treatment, testing, travel, and interpreter services.

“FEMA is pleased to be able to assist the Massachusetts Department of Public Health with these costs,” FEMA Region 1 Regional Administrator Lori Ehrlich said. “Reimbursing state, county, and municipal governments, as well as eligible nonprofits and tribal entities, for the costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic is an important part of our nation’s ongoing recovery.”

FEMA’s Public Assistance program is an essential source of funding for states and communities recovering from a federally declared disaster or emergency. So far, FEMA has provided more than $1.7 billion in Public Assistance grants to Massachusetts to reimburse the Commonwealth for pandemic-related expenses.