Arkansas will soon pay the $300 in extra jobless benefits for those who qualify, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday (Sept. 8) during his daily COVID-19 briefing. He also said he was happy with anecdotal evidence showing Arkansans practicing safe health measures during the Labor Day weekend.
Unemployment insurance benefits that provided an extra $600 a week and paid benefits to the self-employed, fully paid by the federal government, expired at the end of July. Congressional leaders have yet to compromise on legislation to extend and adjust the benefits. President Donald Trump on Aug. 8 issued an executive order that would support extension of jobless benefits by using disaster relief funds (DRF) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and COVID relief funds previously provided by Congress to the states.
Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said Tuesday the Lost Wages Assistance program will provide $300 a week to those who now receive $100 more more a week in unemployment insurance. Those wanting to sign up for the added benefits can use this link or call (501) 907-2590. Those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance established for the self-employed are automatically eligible if they receive $100 more more a week in unemployment benefits.
Preston said there are an estimated 7,400 Arkansans not eligible for the $300 a week in added benefits. The state will use the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to help that group, but to be eligible a person must have a child under 18 and must meet federal poverty level criteria.
Gov. Hutchinson also said Tuesday the state will spend $4 million to buy 120,000 rapid antigen testing kits through the previously announced consortium with the Rockefeller Foundation and other states. The resources will be placed in state public health labs and in 10 university and college testing sites and “selected” community testing sites. The new supplies should be available beginning in October, he said. The $4 million is from federal funds through the CARES Act package Congress approved earlier this year.
COVID CASE UPDATE, SCHOOL COUNTS
Known COVID-19 cases in Arkansas totaled 66,021 on Tuesday, up from 65,757 on Monday, with 5,154 test results from the previous 24 hours. Of the 294 new cases, 3 were from correctional facilities. There are 5,844 active cases. There were 139 antigen tests in the previous 24 hours with 20 positive results.
The number of deaths rose from 908 to 917. The number of COVID patients hospitalized in Arkansas was 409 on Tuesday, up from 399 on Monday. There are 84 patients on ventilators, down from 74 on Monday. There are 59,260 cumulative recovered cases.
The top five counties with new known cases were: Cross (30), Washington (29), Pulaski (28), Benton (17), and Craighead (16). The counties accounted for 41.2% of the 291 new community cases.
As of Tuesday at 1 p.m., there were 6,312,341 U.S. cases and 189,871 deaths. Globally, there were 27,401,024 cases and 893,871 deaths.
The ADH on Monday updated its tally of active and cumulative cases in schools and universities. As of Sept. 7, there were 2,32 total known COVID cases in public schools, up 53% from the Aug. 27 report. There were 1,846 known cumulative cases at colleges and universities in the Sept. 7 report, up 499.4% from the Aug. 27 report. Following is part of the data from the Sept. 7 report.
• Public schools (as of Sept. 7)
Cumulative active cases: 506
Cumulative cases: 2,332
• Private schools (as of Sept. 7)
Cumulative active cases: 20
Cumulative cases: 127
• Colleges and universities (as of Sept. 7)
Cumulative active cases: 1,241
Cumulative cases: 1,846