Helpful Information about Testing
Governor Ned Lamont announced this week that the state has created a new initiative alongside Hartford HealthCare and Quest Diagnostics which will increase their capacity of COVID-19 testing in the state from 500 to 2,500. Hartford HealthCare will also increase capacity at existing test locations in five locations across the state. The next part of the effort will involve new ways to bring testing to underserved communities to address the health disparities different regions of the state experience.
The state is seeking organizations that can help scale-up state testing capacity as it seeks to reopen the state economy. In addition to current testing, the state hopes to build out capacity to test people without symptoms, in part front line essential workers, and test them regularly. This is intended to better test for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, as the disease can be transmitted before symptoms develop. T
Unemployment Benefits Issued and Upcoming from CT Department of Labor
The Connecticut Department of Labor announced it has provided $83 million in benefits this past week and has processed 327,000 of a total 402,000 applications received since March 13, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact business closures. In total, the DOL has issued $230 million in unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic.
Much of the turnaround comes as the DOL upgraded some of its processes, with new automation programming allowing for the processing of more than 100,000 applications at an increased speed. The agency has had more applications received in the last month than in the past two years. The agency is on target to reduce claim application time from six weeks to one week by April 27.
The Department of Labor continues to complete programming, including developing new systems to accommodate the three federal stimulus programs for unemployment insurance, including Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to provide an additional $600 per week to weekly benefit payments, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides benefits for self-employed individuals. Both of those programs are expected to begin in coming weeks. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, meanwhile, a 13-week federal extension in addition to 26 weeks of state benefits, will be available in mid-May.
The Department of Labor advises those who recently filed applications to look for emails from the Labor Department that will advise of next steps for filing weekly claims and to select direct deposit for receiving benefits to quicken the process of receiving payments.
New Executive Order
The Governor’s 30
executive order since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic is intended to help streamline several processes, making it possible for important procedures to continue around the state. These include:
- An expansion of a previous executive order now allows municipalities’ legislative and budget-making authorities to jointly authorize actions by majority votes. This is intended to allow tine-sensitive and essential actions needing approval on municipal levels to proceed.
- A modification to state statutes, ensuring that individual stimulus payments issued under the federal CARES Act will not be counted as income or resources when determining an individuals’ eligibility for state benefits or services.
- Modifications to state statutes in grounds of divorce, allowing courts to accept virtual or remote testimony from parties dissolving a marriage. This does not apply where restraining orders or protective orders are in effect or pending.
- A modification to state statutes ensuring that parents seeking waivers of right to file motions or petitions for educational support can have that waiver accepted assuming a parent understands the consequences, barring cases with restraining or protective orders in effect or pending.
Small Business Grant Opportunities
With the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic harming businesses, more grants and opportunities are being introduced to help business owners. These include:
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched the Save Small Business Fund, providing $5,000 grants for businesses employing between three and 20 people. Apply here.
- Google has launched a $340 million grant program providing credits for Google Ads, intended to help businesses connect with their customers online – the credits are automatically added to active Google Ads accounts.
- GoFundMe is supplying businesses who raise at least $500 in a fundraising campaign and have been negatively impacted by the pandemic with matching grants. These businesses must be independently owned and not nationally dominant. The grant must be used to care for employees or pay ongoing business expenses.
- The Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue are offering grants of up to $100,000 for fashion industry businesses at least two years old with less than $10 million in annual revenue and fewer than 30 employees. Applications are due May 2.
- Licensed beauty professionals are eligible for $1,000 grants from Beauty Changes Lives if they are out of work. Applications are open.
- Additionally, Duke University has created a collective list of roughly 400 grants available to small businesses in the United States; and GrantWatch is monitoring grants for nonprofits and small businesses.