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Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Those who are grieving loved ones lost to COVID-19 may qualify for federal assistance in paying for funeral expenses. 

On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin accepting applications for a program that will provide up to $9,000 to cover the burial costs of Americans who died of COVID-19 — including 6,672 in Wisconsin. The program, created and expanded through two stimulus bills enacted by Congress, is “the largest program of its type ever offered by the federal government, according to The Washington Post. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate,” Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said in a statement

Applicants can ask questions or file applications at 844-684-6333 beginning Monday. (Users of text telephones can call 800-462-7585.)

Reimbursement is available for deaths that occurred in the United States after Jan. 20, 2020, and the death certificate must specify that COVID-19 was a cause, FEMA says. Neither immigration status nor citizenship affects eligibility. The agency encourages applicants to gather information including an official death certificate, funeral expense documents and proof of funds received from other sources. The agency offers more information here

Top Stories

Dr. Lou Bernhardt, a volunteer for Benevolent Specialists Project, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Thay Seuasouk Seng at Bayview Community Center Wednesday. Credit: Ruthie Hauge / Cap Times

Variants and children heating up Wisconsin’s COVID-19 surgeCap Times

Biden administration to launch massive funeral assistance program for covid victims The Washington Post

‘My kids deserve to eat’: Wisconsin officials fail to get food assistance to thousands of poor childrenMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Here’s what to do if you haven’t received pandemic-related school lunch benefitsMilwaukee Neighborhood News Service 

Garbage bags as PPE. Infected staff on duty. Residents found unresponsive. Wisconsin nursing homes during the pandemic.Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Brown County sees increase in pandemic garbage disposal as trash lines highways ‘every quarter-mile’NBC26 

13% of adults say they will ‘definitely not’ get the COVID-19 vaccine. Here are their reasons.Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Tribal health departments offer vaccines to non-tribal membersGreen Bay Press-Gazette 

Four Rock County Jail inmates test positive for COVID-19; vaccine distribution will go onJanesville Gazette 

What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at tips@wisconsinwatch.org.

Quotable

“We are in a new phase of the epidemic that is clearly worse than we were before. …And it’s transmission among young people who are driving the change in the curve.”

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer in the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases, as quoted by the Cap Times 

Infections again surge

Click on the image above to see Wisconsin DHS COVID-19 vaccine data, which is updated daily.

Here’s a look at the Department of Health Services’ vaccine dashboard, which showed Friday that 77.9% of Wisconsinites ages 65 and older have gotten at least one dose — as have 35.9% of the state’s overall population. Some 22.9% of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated. Racial disparities persist in distributing vaccines. The shares of Black, Hispanic and Native American residents to receive a dose remain below that of white residents. 

Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed — particularly as infections again are surging. On Friday, the state DHS reported 1,092 new cases, the most since Feb. 11. The state also reported five new COVID-19 deaths, pushing the full toll to 6,672. 

WisContext offers this visualization. 

Find a vaccine site near you

DHS has this interactive map of vaccine providers across Wisconsin. Vaccinations are generally by appointment only and it may take time to schedule appointments with providers due to limited supplies of vaccines. Curious about how well your county is doing on vaccinations? The Washington Post created this searchable map

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: tips@wisconsinwatch.org

‘This is part of my purpose’ Milwaukee massage therapist keeps business strong during pandemic TMJ4 News

‘She’s Wonder Woman now’ | After four months of COVID-19 rehab, this 86-year-old Racine woman is home The Journal Times 

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The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.