Colorado gets $181 million in ‘much-needed relief’ from FEMA to fight COVID


DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s got as much federal money rolling in as states five times its size. KDVR’s Data Desk crunched the numbers and found out the state is punching above its weight when it comes to emergency relief.

In Tuesday Colorado’s two senators, John Hickenlooper and Mike Bennett, and Gov. Jared Polis announced that the state would receive $181 million from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The money, they said in a release, would go toward Colorado’s testing sites.

FEMA has paid billions in emergency relief after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency last spring. States apply for public assistance grants for COVID-19-related expenses.

“This is much-needed relief for our state so I am thrilled Senator Hickenlooper has hit the ground running in Washington and I look forward to working with him, Senator Bennet, and our federal delegation to ensure we are delivering results, are getting federal resources to Colorado, and are building back stronger than before the pandemic,” said Polis.

“Hit the ground running” accurately describes Hickenlooper’s get. In one fell swoop, Colorado is now at the top of the United States’ list of FEMA recipients.

The $181 million is the third-largest single payment made by FEMA since last July, just underneath two massive payments to Texas’ health and emergency departments.

Texas – a state with a population five times that of Colorado’s – has taken the most in FEMA money since last summer, with a total $1.7 billion. Similarly populous states such as Florida, New York and California have also received large FEMA grant amounts.

Colorado is only the country’s 21st most populous state but it has been the seventh-largest recipient of FEMA funds.

FEMA offers many different reasons for its public assistance grants. Floods and hurricanes and other natural disasters are one of its largest spending brackets. COVID relief funding comes largely from the “protective services” funding category.

In this, Colorado has now received the third most of any U.S. state.

Anthony Mayne, a public affairs specialist for Colorado’s FEMA district, said the $181 million was indeed a hefty payment.

“The $181 million was provided to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to fund COVID-19 community testing sites and laboratory contracts and was a very large award for the region and state,” wrote Mayne.

“Each state is managing reimbursement to COVID in a manner best for their state. As the event continues, I would anticipate increases in obligations from more populous states.”

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