NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Chuck Schumer held a press conference in Queens on Tuesday calling on FEMA to grant approval for Disaster Funeral Assistance across New York State.
Standing near Elmhurst Hospital in Corona, they asked FEMA to approve their request for help families now faced with funeral and burial costs they can't afford amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Funeral homes are currently unable to provide their usual service due to the high demand of deaths stemming from the COVID-19.
"Nobody wants an opulent funeral or fancy casket but to not be able to bury your loved one properly after this illness afflicted them and took them away is outrageous," Schumer said.
Corona is the topmost impacted zip codes in the country and also, she says, is full of essential workers and working class families who cannot afford funerals.
"The least we can do is help people bury their dead with dignity," Ocasio-Cortez added.
The two lawmakers say that many victims in lower-income and minority communities are burdened with expensive funeral costs and an existing FEMA program used during Superstorm Sandy is available to help but would need the federal agency's approval.
According to the FEMA website, they have the power to ‘help with the cost of unexpected and uninsured expenses associated with the death of an immediate family member when attributed to an event that is declared to be a major disaster or emergency.’
There have been over 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths statewide, and a majority of the victims are in New York City.