Almost all of the New Jersey Congressional delegation is urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reverse a new policy that brings an end to emergency reimbursement for school systems and local governments for face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment.
In a letter signed by representatives from both sides of the aisle, the delegation notes that because of the potential second wave this fall of COVID-19, they are imploring the agency to “reverse this harmful policy.”
“As many students and teachers across our state and our country head back to school, FEMA’s policy will likely make it harder for state and local governments,” members wrote in a letter to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor. “This will hamstring efforts to slow the spread of the virus and prolong this pandemic.”
The policy is set to go into effect on Tuesday and will limit reimbursement only to certain emergency protective measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. That means that things like disinfection of schools and other public facilities, PPE for public employees including teachers, medical staff and election workers, the purchase of thermometers and other physical barriers and the distribution of cloth face masks will no longer qualify for emergency response reimbursement.
The agency will also now limit funding for the storage of a stockpile of PPE to up to 60 days from the date of purchase.
The letter was signed by 11 of the 12 New Jersey Congress members. Only Rep. Jeff van Drew did not sign. Signing the letter were: Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Donald Norcross, Andy Kim, Chris Smith, Frank Pallone, Tom Malinowski, Albio Sires, Bill Pascrell Jr., Donald Payne Jr., Mikie Sherrill and Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Katie Sobko is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.