Dear Chester,

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Right now my office is receiving between 4-500 emails and calls per day. Between Jenny and myself it is at times overwhelming and we are dealing with issues that are extraordinary even under these circumstances.

It is heartwarming to see the massive response to the call for donations of food and funds to help those who are struggling. Your generosity and compassion for your neighbors is a symbol of hope and resilience. I am honored and grateful to be part of our community every day.

Be well,



Lauren


Unemployment Claims

The Department of Labor this week introduced a software improvement that officials said will quicken the speed at which unemployment claims are processed, with new estimates being a decrease from six-week waiting periods at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to a current period of one week or less.
 
Governor Lamont’s administration said the department has been operating on a 40-year-old computer system to process the claims, though it has been implementing software upgrades previously to improve the technology. Since March 13, the department has received more than 350,000 applications, nearly double the amount it typically receives in a single year. As of the beginning of this week, 174,000 of those applications have already been manually processed. In the last three weeks, more than $107 million in benefits have been provided, compared to a traditional $15 to $16 million per week.
 
Anyone who has applied for unemployment benefits is urged to monitor their email for notifications from the Department of Labor directing them to take action on next steps. Claimants are advised to use direct deposit; a shortage of debit cards could cause up to three weeks of additional delay.
No Cost Life Insurance for Front Line health care workers

Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais today announced that front-line health care workers in Connecticut and Massachusetts may soon be eligible to receive up to $25,000 of life insurance at no cost. The Connecticut Insurance Department has expedited approval of HealthBridge, a new Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) life insurance product that offers no-cost, guaranteed issue policies to front-line health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible individuals must be employed at a licensed hospital, urgent care center, or with an emergency medical services provider in Connecticut or Massachusetts and have exposure to COVID-19 patients. In addition to doctors and nurses, lab technicians, custodial staff, maintenance crews, cafeteria workers, and security personnel will also be considered for coverage. More details and enrollment information is available on  MassMutual’s HealthBridge website .



Stimulus Checks

Financial stimulus checks intended to support the public have begun being released by the federal government. Individuals who filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019 valued at less than $75,000 are eligible to receive $1,200, with couples filing together receiving up to $2,400. These filings also include an additional $500 per child.

The payments begin phasing out for individuals with incomes above $75,000, with the amount reduced by $5 per every $100 earned above $75,000 and the stimulus phased out for those making above $99,000. The income thresholds are doubled for married couples. Social Security recipients will also automatically receive their payments, even if they have not filed returns.

Those who filed taxes in 2019 or 2018 and included financial and banking information regarding a tax return will likely receive their stimulus check direct-deposited into their bank account. The IRS reported up to 80 million people will receive their stimulus in their bank accounts by April 15.

Taxpayers who have not authorized direct deposits could wait weeks for a paper check to arrive in the mail, though the IRS has introduced a new tool on its website titled “ Get My Payment .” Users will need to input Social Security numbers, dates of birth, mailing addresses and, if applicable, information from their 2019 or 2018 tax forms to confirm their identities and can receive confirmation about the status and type of payment they will receive. They can also submit bank account information to speed up the delivery of a check from physical to direct deposit. Non-tax filers who don’t have filing requirements can also submit information to receive a stimulus payment.


Disabled American Veterans Helping Furloughed Veterans

Disabled American Veterans, or DAV, will provide payments of $250 to any service-connected disabled veteran who has been laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19. Any service-connected disabled veteran, including self-employed contractors or small business owners, who have lost employment as a direct result of COVID-19 are eligible. For more information and an application form, please visit  DAV.org/COVIDrelief .
Liberty Bank comes through for healthcare! 

The  #LibertyBankFoundation  has approved a $100,000 emergency grant to be split among four area healthcare networks -  Hartford HealthCare Middlesex Health Yale  New Haven Health  and  Trinity Health Of New England . This grant represents the care, compassion and commitment the Liberty Bank team shares when it comes to supporting our local hospitals and the everyday work of our healthcare heroes in the communities we share. Way to Go Liberty!

Town Hall Meeting with Matt Pugliese
Associate State Director
Connecticut Small Business Development Center

Friday, April 17, 2020
1:00 p.m. via Zoom Webinar

Join Matt Pugliese, Associate State Director, Connecticut Small Business Development Center for a virtual Town Hall Meeting designed to provide the latest news and updates on funding opportunities available. This is your chance to ask those important questions affecting your small business or non-profit.

Register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. 







MEWS+ presents 
"Readying for Recovery: Resources for Middlesex County Businesses"

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Join The MEWS+ Entrepreneurial Community as we host the leadership team from The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce  to learn about the many local, state, and federal resources developed to help small businesses navigate and recover from the health and economic crisis. President Larry McHugh, Vice President Johanna Bond, and Vice President Jeff Pugliese will share information on:
 
  • Chamber webinars with Senator Blumenthal, Congressman Joe Courtney, and SBDC Counselor Jim Jackson;
  • How the CARES Act provisions - PPP, EIDL, and Tax Credits - apply to small business owners and startups
  • The Chamber’s Coronavirus Tool Kit;
  • SHOUT IT OUT campaign;
  • Community partners and local resources; and
  • Recovery fund opportunities.

Register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.