How to claim new reimbursement available for COVID burials

The COVID pandemic has put a financial strain on thousands of families in the Tri-State area when it comes to burying their loved ones.

Video Transcript

- A helping hand is being given to the many people who never got to properly say goodbye to their loved ones during this pandemic. Since the pandemic started, nearly 41,000 New Yorkers have died of coronavirus. And with many of those left behind out of work, affording a proper memorial or burial was not possible. But now federal money is available that may help.

Here's 7 On Your Side investigative reporter Dan Krauth.

DAN KRAUTH: It has been a difficult year of memorials and burials, so many unexpected losses, and many families who couldn't afford to lay their loved ones to rest.

- I don't feel good. I feel very sad.

DAN KRAUTH: This daughter lost both her mother and father to COVID-19 just weeks apart. She also lost her job when the pandemic started.

- I had money for her, but when it's my dad happen, they, many people tell me, even the school and my friends.

DAN KRAUTH: Her biggest fear, her parents remains ending up here in a mass grave on Hart Island, a place where unclaimed bodies have been buried for more than a century. 7 On Your Side found this was a grim reality for thousands of families during the pandemic. Last year, more than 2,300 people were buried on the island. That's almost three times the amount higher than the year before.

- I say no, I want my parents. So I will try to take the money. I will looking for help.

DAN KRAUTH: We reported on the big need for financial help almost a year ago. The city had a fund set up to help bury the dead, $900 a person.

The city of New York doubled the amount of funding available for reimbursement. And starting this month, FEMA is now offering help.

CHUCK SCHUMER: Many of these families, because of COVID, don't have money for a proper funeral and a proper burial.

DAN KRAUTH: Family members can apply to receive up to $9,000 in reimbursement for a COVID-19 burial or cremation. Applicants have to have a death certificate, receipts, and proof that funds came from other sources.

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Families also are having to deal with having to pay for the storage of the bodies of their own loved ones.

DAN KRAUTH: The virus hit minority communities the hardest, with high numbers of positive cases and deaths in our most diverse zip codes. Many had to turn to nonprofits and local consulates for help.

JAIRO GUZMAN : The Mexican consulate reports that they helped over 1,000 persons be sent back home, their body be sent back home. And that's only those that came to the Mexican consulate.

DAN KRAUTH: As for this daughter, her community in Corona, Queens helped pay for her parents to be cremated. It was less expensive. Now there's assistance to help pay them back and for other families so this fate won't become a pandemic reality.

We have step-by-step instructions on how to apply for the burial assistance on our website. Click on the 7 On Your Side Investigates tab.

Reporting in Queens tonight, Dan Krauth, Channel 7 Eyewitness News.