Gov. Hutchinson announces federal application for enhanced unemployment compensation

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday based on the need, the state is submitting an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in order to receive $300 per week in enhanced unemployment compensation.

At this time, the state will not be putting in extra money from the state to increase the enhanced unemployment compensation as President Donald Trump said states could add.

According to Commerce Secretary Mike Preston, the 25% percent that the state already pays is the state’s match to the enhanced unemployment compensation.

Preston said if the state were to contribute the additional $100, it would be an additional $250 million to $265 million for the state.

According to Governor Hutchinson, the legislature, through peer review, approved the appropriation Tuesday.

Hutchinson said it still needs to be approved by the Legislative Council.

The governor said the state can withdraw the application if need be, but submitting the application now will save the state days and put Arkansas ahead of the curve.

Governor Hutchinson said if it is approved, the state will be earlier in line.

Hutchinson warned recipients of the unemployment compensation the application has to be approved by FEMA and the state’s system will have to be adjusted, so the enhanced payments will be weeks away.

The governor also warned that federal guidance can change.

Governor Hutchinson said he wanted to put Arkansas in the best position possible.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 729 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths, according to Governor Asa Hutchinson. That brings the state’s total to 54,216 total COVID-19 cases and 631 deaths.

According to Secretary of Health Dr. José Romero, 10 counties had 20 cases or more. The counties with the largest number of new cases are Pulaski County (65), Jefferson County (56), Sebastian County (52), Craighead County (33), Washington County (32), Pope County (30), Benton County (29), Mississippi County (25), Garland County (25) and Johnson County (22).

Dr. Romero said three of the deaths announced Wednesday were in nursing homes.

According to Hutchinson, there are 499 people hospitalized in Arkansas due to the virus, an increase of seven since Tuesday.

Dr. José Romero said there are currently 114 people on ventilators in Arkansas due to the virus, which is an increase of eight.

According to state officials, there are 5,919 active cases of the virus in the state.

Of the active cases, 38 are in nursing homes, 961 are in correctional facilities and 4,920 are in communities.

The governor said there were 6,025 tests completed Tuesday.

Hutchinson said 108,581 tests have been done so far in August. According to the governor, the state is doing more testing than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has completed 1,210 inspections of businesses for compliance efforts, such as wearing masks in restaurants, staff wearing masks and social distancing.

According to state officials, 90 percent of the businesses inspected are in compliance.

According to the governor, officials have found 113 violations, which most were given a verbal warning.

State officials say 17% of the violations were given citations.

Mike Moore with Alcoholic Beverage Control- Enforcement said the common goal is to see businesses stay open.

Moore also said this weekend, his department will pay special attention to college areas as they begin to resume activity.

Romero reminded those who were submitting plans for mitigation at large events to follow the guidelines as they are issued and corrected by the Arkansas Department of Health.

Governor Hutchinson also commented on the latest University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) modeling released Tuesday.

Hutchinson said, “As a policymaker, I want all the data that I can get.”

The governor said he is concerned there will be no data that they will have in the future to see if the modeling was right or wrong.

Governor Hutchinson said the date peak of coronavirus cases was pushed back from September 30 (according to June 12 report) to mid-December (Tuesday’s report).

Hutchinson believes the pushing back of the peak of cases is good news because that means the state is flattening the curve.

The governor said he has only been tested once for the virus, and it came back with a negative result. The test was when Governor Hutchinson visited the White House.

Hutchinson said he is following the Arkansas Department of Health guidelines and not getting tested because he is not showing any symptoms.

The governor said he is screened every day when he goes to work at the State Capitol.

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