QU receives over $3M FEMA reimbursement for COVID-19 testing

Katie Langley, News Editor

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse Quinnipiac University nearly $3.3 million for expenses the university accumulated while providing COVID-19 testing to students, faculty and staff between July 2020 and June 2021.

The reimbursement is part of FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, which monetarily assists the recovery of state governments, agencies and nonprofit organizations in the case of federally-declared disasters or emergencies, the agency announced in a March 24 press release.

Quinnipiac administered over 95,800 reimbursable COVID-19 tests in the 2020-21 timeline defined by FEMA, according to the release.

Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan told the Chronicle the university would not comment on the Public Assistance Program funding beyond what is provided in the FEMA press release.

The pandemic was initially declared a national emergency by former President Donald Trump in March 2020. Although President Joe Biden later extended the emergency status past its original March 2023 expiration date, Biden is set to terminate the COVID-19 national emergency on May 11.

Infographic by Lindsey Komson

Dennis Pinkham, a spokesperson for FEMA’s New England region, said the Public Assistance funds are meant to compensate expenses taken on during a disaster or emergency that the recipients cannot afford without federal support.

Subapplicants to the Public Assistance Program, such as colleges and universities, can apply for reimbursement through state governments.

Morgan confirmed in a March 28 email to the Chronicle that Quinnipiac applied for the Public Assistance Program through the state of Connecticut. Connecticut officials informed Quinnipiac of the award on March 27, Morgan wrote.

Once assistance funds are allocated to the states, state governments are responsible for allotting the funding that FEMA deemed necessary to subapplicants, Pinkham said.

“There are certain (expenses) that are allowable and (applicants and subapplicants) just keep tracking those expenses, and then they go through the state, and the state then asks for money from FEMA,” Pinkham said.

In the state of Connecticut, Public Assistance reimbursements for COVID-19-related expenses have totaled more than $630 million, according to the press release.

Among the other recipients in the state of Connecticut was the city of New Haven, according to a separate press release from March 24.

FEMA awarded New Haven over $2.9 million to reimburse the expense of the overtime wages of city employees and professional staff, such as those that worked at COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.

These reimbursable expenses include COVID-19 testing supplies, personal protective equipment and the cost of paying essential workers overtime during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s all budget control … (applicants and subapplicants) can’t just say, ‘Well, we want a million dollars so we can help people,’” Pinkham said. “It’s got to be, ‘We want 10,000 masks, N-95 masks … and then that’s got a code assigned to it, and if you don’t use the code, then it’s probably not an authorized expense.”

In addition to Quinnipiac, other universities in Connecticut are set to earn FEMA reimbursements for pandemic spending. Fairfield University will receive more than $3.4 million, the University of Connecticut will receive almost $1.6 million, Connecticut College will receive nearly $1.9 million and Sacred Heart University will receive more than $1 million.