A new FEMA policy change will scrub COVID-19 funds for disinfecting mass transit, schools and other public facilities, New York officials charged on Thursday.
“I have spoken with New York State and New York City and they are telling me that disinfection of the MTA, government buildings, and schools will now no longer be eligible expenses [for federal reimbursement], and that PPE for non-medical workers has been strictly limited,” Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
The FEMA rule change, set for Sept. 15, eliminates federal support for the virus-safe operation of courthouses, public transit, public housing, schools and other public facilities, CNN reported on Wednesday — including funds for cleaning and protective equipment.
“The operation of schools and other public facilities, even with changes necessitated by the COVID-19 environment … are not immediate actions necessary to protect public health and safety,” the emergency management agency wrote in an Aug. 29 policy summer provided to The Post by Schumer’s office.
New York has received $1.3 billion from FEMA since the pandemic began in earnest in March, and is expecting to receive more, Schumer said.
The longtime New York senator called the “middle of the game” policy shift “dopey and dangerous.”
“An absurd change like this one — that actually takes money away from New York that’s now being used to clean the subways or prepare schools for classes — is a slap in the face to frontline workers, vulnerable seniors and kids,” he said.
In a statement, a FEMA rep said the funds were intended “so that communities can quickly respond to [emergency] events” and that the new policy aimed to “clarify” eligible expenses.
“Reimbursement for the purchase and distribution of disinfecting supplies for schools is only eligible when being used in the performance of an eligible emergency protective measure,” the agency rep said.
“Normal operation of schools and other public facilities are not emergency protective measures, so FEMA would not provide funding for these activities in these circumstances.”