Federal program to help cover COVID-19 funeral costs launching Monday

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Over the last year, many people had loved ones die due to COVID-19. The Biden Administration is looking to reimburse some of the expense associated with a funeral.

Some families in Siouxland who have lost close members of the family to COVID-19 have mixed reactions on whether or not they feel helped or hurt by the new program.

“It’s just a grief like nothing you can imagine. It’s in your face, every single day. It’s all people talk about you know, you go to a store and you see people not wearing masks and it triggers you,” said Cynthia Recanati.

A federal program offering funeral assistance to families that have lost a member to COVID is set to begin Monday, April 12.

“It is designed to reimburse families who were unprepared for a COVID loss,” said Suzanne Gebel, of the Iowa Funeral Directors Association.

If accepted, families could be reimbursed up to $9,000. You do not need to be in financial distress to be eligible.

“The only stipulation is if the family had a pre-need insurance contract that was funded by a trust, insurance, or any other financial mechanism, they won’t qualify,” said Gebel.

Families that had to cash in life insurance policies or had to come up with the funds themselves do qualify.

Kellie Maree Fickle lost her son to COVID-19 last year. She says although it won’t bring him back, it helps.

“I think it’s a good thing that the current administration is doing a lot of things to support families, the current administration is very empathetic,” said Fickle.

Recanati lost her twin sister to the virus as well and while she appreciates the financial help, she thinks the amount might not be enough.

“$9,000. It’s a slap in the face. It’s actually really insulting. It wouldn’t matter if it was $9,000 or a million dollars, I would rather have my sister back. I’d give every day of the rest of my life to have one day with her,” said Recanati.

The timeline of being reimbursed will vary with each case.

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