With the constantly moving terrain of navigating the coronavirus pandemic, I thought this would be a good time to provide an update. It is imperative that we continue to balance the need for safety and public health with reopening our economy.
1. Schools Are Closed Through End of Academic Year
Governor Lamont announced this week that K-12 schools will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year. These schools will continue to offer distance learning through the end of the academic year. The State Department of Education will provide resources, guidance and answers on issues including attendance, grading, special education, as well as social emotional learning. This was a difficult decision and I know how disappointing this must be for seniors and their families who were looking forward to graduation and celebrations of this achievement.
2. Governor Lamont Outlines Criteria for Phase 1 ReOpening
Friday afternoon, May 8th, during his daily news briefing, Governor Lamont provided an overview + details of the first phase of business reopening plan. Please click on this link for details.
3. ReOpen Connecticut Advisory Board
Governor Lamont has formed an advisory board — ReOpen Connecticut — to look at getting people back to work safely. The plan is to phase in specific sectors of the economy —— safeguarding the health of our residents while getting folks back to work.
The Department of Economic and Community Development has a survey for both small business owners and workers to provide their insights on next steps.
- The Small Business Reopening is a tool for business owners to help state officials understand the current status and implications of reopening
- The CT Worker Sentiment Survey will help officials understand how employees feel about returning to the workplace.
4. Small Businesses Help Available
The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) announced this week that $110 billion in funding remains for the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. Approximately 30,000 Connecticut businesses and non-profits have been approved for $2.5 billion in forgivable loans during this round. The PPP provides forgivable loans to small businesses and non-profits with less than 500 employees. Under the loan, 75 percent of funds must be used for payroll expenses; the rest can be used on rent, mortgage interest or utilities. More information is available here. Connecticut has more than 350 SBA-approved banks and credit unions that can help organizations secure funding.
5. Self-employed residents seeking aid can now apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
The Connecticut Department of Labor today announced that it has made active the filing site so those who are self-employed can complete the necessary filing applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Those seeking to apply should visit www.filectui.com and locate the red button labeled with the PUA designation. The site will accept applications from self-employed individuals, including independent contractors and “gig” workers who have already applied through the state unemployment system and have received a determination notice in the mail.
To date, more than 38,000 self-employed individuals have completed the first step of the federally-required two-step process. The first step, which requires individuals to file an application on the state unemployment system, generates a determination notice that is sent by applications via mail. The notice, also known as a UC-58, notifies those eligible to file as a self-employed person that wage data is not available and disqualifies them for state benefits. Under guidelines set by the federal government, this two-step process ensures accurate accounting and integrity measures.
Because self-employed individuals already applied through the state unemployment system, the newly-built PUA site will have a record of a person’s state benefit ineligibility status. The PUA system requires applicants to create an account with a unique password and ID. The secure site also collects the applicant’s name, birth date, and social security number, in addition to wage information.
Applicants will also be asked the date when COVID-19 impacted their employment. Federal guidelines allow this to go back to February 2, 2020. If an unemployed status goes back to retroactive weeks, the system requires applicants to provide weekly earnings through the current week filing.
For more information on how to apply for benefits under the PUA system, read the press release issued today by the Connecticut Department of Labor.
6. Providing information to Connecticut residents
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including an FAQ and other guidance and resources, residents are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus.
Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance and TDD/TTY access. It intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider.
Lastly, please sign up for the state’s CTAlert notification system
We are encouraging all Connecticut residents to sign up for CTAlert, the state’s emergency alert system, which provides text message notifications to users. To subscribe, text the keyword COVIDCT to 888-777.
Please stay in touch and stay well. Let me know any questions you may have. I’m happy to help.