UMass Amherst awarded $6.6 million FEMA grant to cover COVID-19 testing costs

  • Kenedy Petersen, a UMass student employee, waits to register people for COVID-19 testing at the UMass testing site at the Mullins Center in 2021. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/22/2022 1:50:49 PM
Modified: 6/22/2022 1:50:29 PM

AMHERST — Almost $6.6 million is coming to the University of Massachusetts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as reimbursement for the costs of providing more than 250,000 COVID-19 tests to students, faculty and staff.

The $6.59 million FEMA Public Assistance grant is going to the state, and then to the university, so the expenses of offering 263,743 COVID-19 tests between August 2020 and August 2021 are covered.

“FEMA is pleased to be able to assist UMass Amherst with these costs,” FEMA Region 1 Regional Administrator Lori Ehrlich said in a statement. “Providing resources for our partners on the front lines of the pandemic fight is critical to their success, and our success as a nation.”

As some students returned to campus in August 2020, while most were studying remotely, the university began a campus testing program.

A few months later, UMass began offering one of the first regional testing sites using a $5 million state grant and becoming part of the state’s Stop the Spread program in December 2020. The Public Health Promotion Center was initially an appointment-only, walk-in site for asymptomatic individuals running from the Mullins Center before it later moved to the Campus Center.

FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides money to states and communities that are recovering from a federally declared disaster or emergency. Massachusetts so far has received more than $1 billion from this program for pandemic-related expenses.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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