-- Indiana will join a federal coronavirus program providing an additional
$300 a week in unemployment benefits, although officials said Wednesday it
could take up to a month for those payments to begin.
reported 15 more coronavirus-related deaths across the state, while the
number of people confirmed with COVID-19 infections and those undergoing
tests continued their recent declines.
Trump this month signed an executive order extending the added weekly
benefit after he and Congress were unable to agree to a broader new pandemic
relief plan. The new payment is half the $600 people had been receiving
under a previous benefit program that expired last month.
Eric Holcomb said the Indiana payments would be retroactive to Aug. 1.
It took several
weeks for distribution of the initial federal jobless aid to start in
Indiana after Congress approved it in March following widespread business
shutdowns as the COVID-19 outbreak hit the country.
Payments from new
program likely won’t begin for two to four weeks as computer systems are
updated, said Fred Payne, commissioner of Indiana’s Department of Workforce
“It is going to
take a little bit of extra effort on our part in terms of moving staff to
build a new system and that system requires us to look at some new
infrastructure,” Payne said.
The $300 payments
will more than double Indiana’s average $280 weekly unemployment payment,
which has a maximum of $390 a week. Residents will have to be receiving $100
a week in unemployment aid to be eligible for the additional federal aid, a
level which Indiana officials said the vast majority of those aid recipients
Indiana was paying
unemployment benefits to about 330,000 people in late July, according to
Emergency Management Agency has said the additional funding may last roughly
five or six weeks depending on how many states participate. Indiana’s
unemployment rate was 11.3 in June -- down from 17.5% in April.
State officials are
working to develop a public website that will track the number of
coronavirus cases among students, teachers and other employees at Indiana’s
Dr. Kristina Box,
the state health commissioner, said her goal was to have the website
available by mid- to late September and that the information would be broken
down by individual school.
The public tracking
system is being developed as school districts across the state have
struggled with reopening decisions.
Holcomb and state
health officials have declined to set benchmarks for the circumstances when
schools should close their doors to students.
Several of the
state’s largest school districts have started the academic year with only
online classes. Some opened with in-person classes only to backtrack after
facing coronavirus cases.