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Letter to the Hon. Peter Gaynor, Admin. of the Federal Emergency Management Agency - Fleischmann, Alexander, Blackburn Lead Letter Urging FEMA to Cease Implementation of Problematic COVID-19 Policy


Dear Administrator Gaynor,

On behalf of the State of Tennessee, we are writing to express our opposition to FEMA Interim Policy FP 104-009-19. This significant policy change will hurt the state's ability to respond to COVID-19, prevent states from re-opening schools, and undermine recovery efforts in the middle of a global pandemic. We urge FEMA to stop implementation of this policy immediately.

On April 2, 2020, President Trump declared a Major Disaster Declaration for all 95 counties in the State of Tennessee (FEMA DR-4514) for COVID-19. This declaration designated Public Assistance in the form of Category B emergency protective measures for the State of Tennessee.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency protective measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are social distancing, decontamination and cleaning of certain spaces, wearing personal protective equipment, and wearing cloth masks or coverings. Accordingly, Governor Lee implemented and executed a plan to use Public Assistance Funds to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at schools, courthouses, jails, and fire departments--which, is a priority for President Trump. During her visit to Tennessee, Dr. Deborah Birx praised Governor Lee's plan to reopen schools and hailed it as "an example every state could follow."

However, on September 1, FEMA issued Interim Policy FP 104-009-19, which will narrow eligibility of expenditures related to COVID-19 response, undermine the plans Tennessee is already executing, and undercut President Trump's vision to get our children back to school. Governor Lee tells us that Interim Policy FP 104-009-19 will cause grave financial harm to the State of Tennessee, local governments and residents.

Given that FEMA's release of Interim Policy 104-009-19 was more than six months into the response of COVID-19, State and local governments now have to restructure and find new funding sources for plans to combat the spread of COVID-19 that are already working. This new interpretation will undermine the continued response efforts to mitigate the spread and protect the residents of Tennessee.

On behalf of the State of Tennessee, we strongly oppose Interim Policy FP 104-009-19 and respectfully urge you to stop implementation of this policy immediately.