Trump Holding Stimulus For The Dead Who Go Unburied

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Americans stand, their backs to a cold spring wind and ignore skies threatening rain at any moment. They come to honor their friend, their sister, their father, their coworker, to stand vigil and pay their respects. Person after person in cheap coffins, 61,570 of them as of Thursday morning.

Almost 18 percent of the grief-stricken standing guard over their dead have lost their jobs to the coronavirus pandemic, 30 million in all. Yet, Donald Trump has refused to let lose the disaster relief funding specifically intended to help families in 30 states and territories pay to bury their dead.

The purpose of the funds includes a wide assembly of “individual assistance” programs via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster victims funds. Yet, Trump has put people’s overwhelming need for burial services “under review.” Instead, he just offered them counseling services.

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Former FEMA presidential appointee Mark Neveau worked during Hurricane Sandy. He said that people who die from coronavirus die alone, according to The ProPublica publication:

‘We’ve not seen that before in this country. To have the federal government pay for funeral[s] is an appropriate thing.

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Image: Screenshot via YouTube.

Neveau said the FEMA funds just cover the basic graveside funeral or cremation. Yet, that was true for others, not the pandemic dead now. Trump believes that being sick is weak. It appeared all of these sickened victims committed one of his ultimate sins. Neveau said:

‘We’re seeing people buried in wooden boxes. That’s somebody’s loved one.’

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A FEMA spokesperson said:

‘The approval of programs in response to a disaster declaration request is made at the discretion of the President.’

On April 28, Trump released a memorandum. It authorized the counseling via FEMA but also intentionally blocked FEMA from giving the states burial aid:

‘[These funds] shall not be construed to encompass any authority to approve other forms of assistance.’

Spokesperson for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget Rachel Semmel said that questions should go to FEMA:

‘Individual Assistance is within FEMA’s area of responsibility.’

Former FEMA administrator under President Barack Obama Craig Fugate claimed that the agency said:

‘What gets turned on in a disaster is based on FEMA’s recommendations, but the White House has a heavy influence on what that is. FEMA does not have the independent ability to turn on the programs at will.’

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Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Detroit Suflan Nabhan works with the extensive Muslim community living in southeastern Michigan. He said that part of his responsibility has been to work with about 24 families to bury their dead. The latest family was hesitant:

‘I felt he wanted to tell me something, but he’s hesitant. You feel it, they are shy. Everyone is grieving right now, everyone is feeling not safe, everyone is feeling stressed, They lost a loved one and then they’re going to worry about covering the cost of the burial? I think it’s too much.’

Trump has been withholding burial funds for months. As a result, many families whose loved ones died from the coronavirus have had to turn to GoFundMe and religious organizations for help.

Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.

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