JERSEY CITY, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) today announced $2,369,649.55 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding to support Essex County’s continued COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. After Sen. Menendez’s years-long push to reform how FEMA responds to disasters, last month the agency answered his call to eliminate the cost-sharing requirements for disaster grants.

“Essex County has had a top-notch response and recovery plan in place that put families, small businesses, and frontline workers first,” said Sen. Menendez. “We still have a long way to go until our state puts the pandemic in our rearview mirror, but this funding will allow the county to continue protecting the health and safety of all its residents as we continue fighting COVID-19.”
“Though our state has made incredible progress fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, communities are still facing long-term costs associated with procuring personal protective equipment, testing kits, and other essential materials,” said Sen. Booker. “This federal funding will help these communities recoup their losses, providing them with the resources they need to continue offering vital public health services to our state’s residents.”

Essex County was one of the earliest and hardest-hit counties when the pandemic first struck last year. The funding will reimburse the county for the expenses incurred over the past year and half, including for payroll, testing sites, personal protective equipment purchases and vaccine distribution.

“Essex County has had a comprehensive response to the Coronavirus pandemic, which has included providing free testing for the past 19 months, hosting vaccination sites, reaching out into the community with mobile clinics, offering assistance to small businesses, renters and homeowners, and making food boxes available to the underserved,” said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. “The $2.3 million reimbursement from FEMA secured by Senators Menendez and Booker will help defray the cost of our pandemic response and enable us to continue to act effectively during these challenging times.”

In May, Sen. Menendez led bipartisan legislation to eliminate cost-share payments required of states and communities included in federal disaster declarations in 2020. He also led bipartisan requests from both the New Jersey congressional delegation and his Senate colleagues calling on President Trump to completely eliminate the local cost-sharing for FEMA disaster grants. Sen. Booker joined him in those efforts.