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State Sen. Needleman: May 27, 2020 COVID-19 Update — CT Department of Labor Update, Emergency SNAP Benefits

By State Senator, Norm Needleman.

I hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy. Please take a few moments to read an update on efforts by the Connecticut Department of Labor and SNAP benefits.

Flags To Be Flown At Half-Staff For State Trooper First Class Baron Jr.

U.S. and state flags in the state will be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for Connecticut State Police Trooper First Class Eugene Kenneth Baron, Jr., who passed away Monday, May 25 after a courageous battle with cancer. Trooper First Class Baron Jr. developed that cancer as a result of his response and service in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in New York City; his passing is classified as a line-of-duty death. Flags will remain lowered until sunset on the day of interment, currently scheduled for Saturday, May 30.

Connecticut Department of Labor Update

Creating Disaster Relief Jobs, Employment, Training Services

The Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) has received a federal grant worth $2.33 million to create temporary disaster relief jobs, employment training services and other forms of support for dislocated workers in Connecticut. This funding, distributed from the Disaster Recovery National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant, was awarded to assist the state’s recovery from COVID-19. The grant will be used to address critical needs including the unprecedented increase in unemployment, the strains of COVID-19 on public health infrastructure, and increased demand for workers in disaster relief and humanitarian jobs.

The relief work will likely represent cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting public facilities; delivering medicine, food or other supplies to quarantined individuals; and health care support to assist the sick and vulnerable. Additionally, CTDOL will partner with five regional workforce development boards to implement these programs.

As Many as 75,000 Eligible For Extended Unemployment Benefits

CTDOL will mail instruction letters to approximately 77,000 individuals who are potentially eligible to apply for 13 weeks of emergency extended unemployment benefits. The recent federal CARES Act included this extension of state unemployment plans, potentially retroactive to late March and in effect through December for certain individuals. Weekly benefits are based on wage history using unemployment benefit amounts; they will also include federal pandemic unemployment compensation benefits. These letters will detail further steps in the process.

Connecticut Children’s, Senator Blumenthal To Host Virtual Town Hall On Families During COVID-19

On Friday, May 29 from 1 to 2 p.m., Connecticut Children’s will join U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal for a virtual town meeting, discussing how COVID-19 has impacted families in our state. Senator Blumenthal will update the public on steps the federal government is taking to help families during this time, while Connecticut Children’s representatives will discuss the efforts to keep kids and families safe and sound during the current pandemic. Following the speakers, there will be a moderated Q&A section. The discussion is open to the public but organizers request members of the public register in advance here.

SNAP Families With School-Aged Children To Receive Emergency Benefits

Due to the cancellation of in-person classes through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, the families of more than 250,000 school students participating in free- or reduced-price meals programs will soon receive additional emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to ensure children continue to receive proper nutrition. Funding for this program has continued since the cancellation of classes in March. The state Department of Social Services estimates it will issue roughly $34.5 million in additional food benefits to about 70,000 SNAP-eligible households and $63 million to about 81,000 households not currently enrolled in SNAP. SNAP families will have benefits deposited in their current accounts; those not enrolled in SNAP will receive debit cards in coming weeks, with deposits of funding to come in June. The planned one-time benefit is $364.80 per child enrolled in the program.

Online Food Ordering With SNAP Benefits Soon To Come

To lower the risk of contracting COVID-19, the Connecticut Department of Social Services is working with the federal Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the state’s electronic benefit transfer vendor, and participating food retailers to implement SNAP online purchasing in Connecticut. This plan, federally approved earlier this week, may go into effect as soon as June 2. Enrollees will be able to use SNAP benefits to purchase eligible food items online for delivery or curbside pickup at participating food retailers, which include Amazon, Walmart and ShopRite. More details will be made available in the next ten days.

Testing Data By Town Added To Daily Coronavirus Updates

The State Department of Public Health is now providing testing information on the COVID-19 pandemic sorted by town, the latest data added to its public information about the response to the viral pandemic. Daily updates on COVID cases for all 169 Connecticut towns are now available by date reported, as well as total tests and cases by date collected and reported. All of this information is now available at ct.gov/coronavirus and data.ct.gov/coronavirus.

Reminder Applications are Open for Farmers Seeking COVID-19 Relief

Farmers who have been impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to sign up for financial assistance through the federal Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. This program is eligible for producers of agricultural commodities experiencing price declines greater than 5 percent or who faced market supply chain disruptions with significant market costs. Commodities including non-specialty crops, wool, livestock, dairy and specialty crops are eligible; additional crops will be considered including aquaculture, nursery and cut flowers. To find program details including applications, please visit www.farmers.gov/cfap.

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