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Governor Phil Scott Submits Requests for Federal Disaster Declaration

April 7, 2020

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott has requested federal disaster funds to assist the state of Vermont in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The request asks for federal Public Assistance (PA) funds for the state and all towns for costs incurred in the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Individual Assistance, including Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling Assistance/Regular Services Program for all Vermont counties.

If granted, this disaster assistance provides a 75% reimbursement to state and local governments and some non-profits for emergency protective measures, including actions taken to save lives and protect public health and safety.

“The COVID-19 disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected local governments,” said Governor Scott in his letter to President Trump. “Federal assistance is absolutely necessary to ensure the health and safety of all individuals in Vermont.”
A request for a disaster declaration typically includes an assessment of physical damage to property in order to qualify for relief. Under these extraordinary circumstances, preliminary damage assessments are not required or recommended due to the dynamic nature of the pandemic. Cases continue to increase each day and ongoing life-saving response activities are overwhelming state and local resources. Conducting assessments at this time would also jeopardize the health and safety of state and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff.   

However, as of the date of the request, the Vermont Department of Finance and Management has advised that the state has already expended well over $20 million in response costs, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medical equipment and personnel. The final cost of the response is expected to be far greater.

Protective actions in response to COVID-19 that would be covered under this relief could include:

  • Emergency Operations Center Operations
  • Emergency Medical Care
  • Medical Sheltering
  • Medical Supplies
  • Provisions of food, water, ice, medicine and other essential needs
  • Security and law enforcement for temporary facilities
  • Communications of general health and safety information to public

Non-profits that could be eligible for reimbursement include nursing homes, laboratories, rehab centers that provide medical care, hospitals and emergency care facilities, fire/rescue emergency services and education facilities.

In addition to the PA funds, the Governor has requested authorization for Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling Assistance/Regular Services Program of the Individual Assistance Program for the COVID-19 disaster. In addition to unemployment assistance, this disaster relief would address the long term impacts on services provided to our most at-risk populations which are experiencing reduced operations or closure such as libraries, adult daycare centers, skilled nursing programs, counseling and support groups and more.

This assistance will also be used to expand access to mental health services and supports to help those in need who are experiencing significant emotional and mental health distress as result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Governor Scott also requested authority and additional funding to activate additional personnel in the Vermont National Guard. 

The request documents, submitted to FEMA on Monday, are available by clicking here.