PROVIDENCE, RI – In an effort to protect public safety, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced that Rhode Island will receive an additional $941,560 in federal emergency management funding to help combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  The federal funds will help the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) work with local first responders to enhance emergency management and response capabilities.

“Governor Raimondo and RIEMA are doing outstanding work to ensure the safety of all Rhode Islanders.  Their leadership, and the incredible work of our medical professionals and first responders, has been nothing short of heroic.  This additional federal funding will provide them some much needed financial backup.  I will continue doing everything I can to support them, whether its securing extra funding, wrangling federal resources, or cutting through red tape.  Effective response and recovery requires a whole of government approach, an entire community effort, and a sustained commitment.  We’re all in this together and we’ve all got to do our part,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

“Getting a handle on the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic requires an extraordinary level of coordination across federal and state governments, health care systems, and the business and nonprofit sectors,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.  “These new resources provided by Congress will boost the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency as it orchestrates our statewide response and works to keep Rhode Islanders safe.”

“Rhode Island’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has to be comprehensive to save lives and these critical federal funds will help us in that mission,” said U.S. Representative Jim Langevin, a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee. “This crisis has upended livelihoods and health care workers, emergency managers, and first responders have shouldered much of the burden of keeping us safe. I’m pleased that we can deliver important resources to bolster the work being done on the front lines to keep Rhode Islanders healthy.”

“As RIEMA continues its work to keep Rhode Islanders safe, it’s critical that the federal government give them whatever resources they need,” said U.S. Representative David Cicilline. “I’m pleased that this funding will strengthen emergency management and response capabilities against COVID-19.”

This additional allocation comes on top of the $3.3 million the state already received earlier this year through the regular Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) program.  EMPG funds, which are administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), help states with emergency planning, preparedness, and response for all types of hazards.  This additional $941,560 announced today stems from a provision of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aide, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law No. 116-136) to provide $100 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants COVID-19 Supplemental (EMPG-S) for all fifty states as well as U.S. territories and Washington, DC.

On April 1, President Trump issued a declaration recognizing Rhode Island and other states a disaster area as a result of COVID-19 beginning on January 20, 2020 and continuing.  This declaration made the state eligible to receive additional federal assistance and a 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA for a wide range of disaster-related costs.  As a result, FEMA has obligated millions of dollars to assist Rhode Island with COVID-19 response.  This federal funding is being used to assist the state with a variety of expenditures and purchases, including the acquisition of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks, gloves, face shields, sanitizer, respirators, and ventilators.  FEMA support staff has also been on the ground in Rhode Island, helping the state and assisting medical workers with planning and testing operations.

FEMA Director Peter Gaynor, who formerly headed up RIEMA, named retired-Captain W. Russell Webster, who served for 26 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal COVID-19 operations in Rhode Island and five other New England states.  FEMA coordinates COVID-19 response efforts with states in several key areas, including matters related to PPE and medical equipment and converting non-medical buildings into makeshift hospitals.