Posted on May 2, 2020 by admin
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions across the United States, and here in Connecticut, we have experienced our fair share of hardships. Thousands have contracted the virus, many have been hospitalized, and, tragically, over 2,300 lives have been lost. As if this weren’t difficult enough, the unprecedented economic impact of this public health crisis has left hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents unemployed. The unemployment has now exceeded 20 percent.
To help our residents during this uncertain time, our federal and state government have expanded and increased unemployment benefits. Specifically, the CARES Act offers three separate programs to eligible recipients. Here is a brief summary of those programs:
FPUC is a supplemental payment of $600 per week to individuals who are already receiving some other form of unemployment insurance (UI), such as state assistance. This program is now available. Eligible recipients do not need to apply for FPUC separately. You will be automatically enrolled once you have filed for unemployment throught the state, PUA or PEUC (not yet available). This week, Governor Lamont announced that Connecticut Department of Labor (CT DOL) has begun issuing these federal stimulus payments to eligible recipients.
PUA is unemployment assistance for self-employed individuals, independent contractors or those who could not get unemployment assistance under the existing state statute because of work requirements, and others not covered by traditional UI. This also includes people who were receiving UI prior to the COVID-19 crisis who have since exhausted those benefits. Applying for PUA is a two-step process.
PEUC allows individuals to receive an extra 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. This program is not yet available, but I will provide updates when possible.
Here is an FAQ document for CT DOL detailing these programs: Click Here
Governor Lamont has named the members of the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, which includes business leaders, public health experts, educators, members of the governor’s administration, and others. Unfortunately, legislators were not included. The group will also be excused from open records laws.
While we appreciate the tireless work of Governor Lamont and his administration, we believe that representation from the General Assembly is crucial during the reopening process. As the voice for our constituents in Hartford, we have a unique relationship with our communities, and we have seen first-hand how this crisis has affected local residents and businesses.
To help source ideas from members of the public, we have created a brief survey where you may provide feedback. While all responses will be kept anonymous, we will use the aggregate data to help facilitate the conversation with Reopen CT and the governor’s office. Let’s work together to help Connecticut back on its feet.
As I previously mentioned, the economic consequences of the pandemic are widespread. Jobless claims and business closures have eroded our tax base, meaning revenue projections for the near future are troubling. Within the next 15 months, we are expected to see a $2.7 billion deficit ($958 million deficit as of June 30, and another $1.89 billion worth of red ink through June 30 of 2021). With few options remaining, we may be forced to use our record-setting Rainy Day Fund, which currently stands at $2.5 billion. The Rainy Day Fund was a Republican-led initiative included in the 2017 budget deal, and its intended use was for times like this. The deficit is something we will need to address in the immediate future. We will continue to work with Governor Lamont and Democratic leaders to find solutions.
The governor’s office has provided data from Connecticut nursing homes with at least one case of COVID-19. It includes the name of the facility, the town where the facility is located, the number of licensed beds, the number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents, and the number of residents with suspected cases.
Latest CT nursing home data: Click Here
As a reminder, these are the best regularly updated resources from global, federal, state, and local governments and agencies:
World Health Organization: Click Here
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Click Here
State of Connecticut Web Portal: Click Here
FAQ Document from Governor’s Office: Click Here
Town of New Canaan: Click Here
Town of Wilton: Click Here
Click here to read more.
The number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations continues to decline. This news is encouraging, and hopefully signals a turn for the better. With that said, please continue to social distance, wash your hands as often as possible, continue to clean surfaces, and follow other public health guidelines. The sooner this situation is fully under control, the sooner we can reopen local businesses, return to work, and enjoy the warm weather ahead.
As always, I will provide more updates as I receive new information. Please reach out to me if you have questions or concerns about the state and local response to the COVID-19 crisis, or any state government matter. I am more than happy to speak with you directly, provide more information if possible, and to serve as a resource for you and your families.
State Representative Tom O’Dea
125th General Assembly District
New Canaan & Wilton