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The sum corresponds to around 76,000 Norwegian kroner. according to The Washington Post the scheme enters into force on 12 April. But people can apply for support for funerals of relatives who died with covid-19 as far back as January 20 last year.
The support does not need to be means-tested. The only thing required is that the recipient explains any support for the funeral from other places. Such support shall be deducted.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has previously helped families who have lost theirs in major hurricanes. But there has never been talk of such large sums.
Just before he resigned, President Trump signed a stimulus package. The details were not known, but at that time there must have been talk of a maximum of 7000 dollars. There was also a ceiling on how much should be spent in total on such support, according to The Washington Post.
Biden has chosen not to do so.
Expensive to die in the US
The number of corona deaths in the country is approaching 600,000. The price tag for a funeral in the United States is on average 9135 dollars, or 77,000 kroner, according to National Funeral Directors Association. Cremation is around $ 600 cheaper.
But many Americans cannot afford large ceremonies. Then they often end up with cremation, and many leave it to the funeral homes to get rid of the ashes.
It therefore happens that the urns are stored away at the funeral homes for years, in boxes and containers.
When the corona seriously hit New York last spring, the dead were placed in freezer trucks.
In the months leading up to November, more than 2,000 people were buried in simple wooden coffins on Hart Island just east of the Bronx. Many of them were laid in mass graves.
According to Time many of the families of the deceased could not afford anything else. Others were not informed that their relative was dead. In the hospitals inside the city there was chaos.
New York had six times as many deaths as normal in March and April last year.
Now the Biden government will support relatives so that they can say a dignified farewell to those who die of covid-19.
Hotline about the scheme
This coming Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will open a free telephone service with information about the support scheme. On their website can one read what the support includes:
- Transport to hospital to identify the deceased
- Coffin or urn
- Place in a cemetery or niche in a crematorium
- Tombstone or equivalent
- Funeral ceremony, including renting a church and using a priest or equivalent
- Costs of obtaining a death certificate
All citizens and “qualified foreigners” can apply for support.
The United States has many poor people
In June last year had the United States 65 million people under the age of 65 living below the poverty line.
That is to say that one who alone earns less than 108,000 kroner a year, or as a family of four has a total income less than 222,000 kroner.
In addition, come around 5 million Americans over the age of 65 living below the poverty line.
Some have managed to bury theirs with the support of the local congregation. Some have gone online and raised money via GoFundMe or Facebook.
But no one has ever picked up the urn with the ashes, or the coffin, on Hart Island in New York.
The richer will get more
– The more affluent families will probably end up getting more than the poor families. This applies at least to the funerals from January 2020 until now.
That’s what economist David Harrington from Kenyon College says The Washington Post.
The reason is that the poor families usually choose the cheapest solutions.
If the choice is between a proper funeral or food, funeral or school supplies for the children, then most will prioritize the funeral.
Must prove cause of death
To receive support, the death certificate must state that the cause of death was covid-19.
Not all doctors were so careful at first. One of the reasons was that often no tests were taken to document that the deceased had been infected.
The test capacity was miserable, and one had to prioritize the living. Elderly people who died in nursing homes were rarely tested after death.
Now, a proper death certificate can mean several thousand dollars extra to spend.
Doctors will be put under pressure to change documents they have long since signed, knowing that a new death certificate can dramatically improve the lives of many living.