Virus Outbreak Arizona

Owner Steve Johnson attaches a notice on the door of Keegan's Grill Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Phoenix notifying guests his restaurant will closing in compliance with the state of emergency issued by the city of Phoenix earlier in the day that restaurants only serve take-out. Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff have ordered bars, gyms and other indoor facilities to close immediately and restaurants to offer to-go service only in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

(The Center Square) – Out-of-work contract employees, gig workers, part-time workers and others who don’t otherwise qualify for unemployment benefits will be able to apply in mid-May, state officials announced. 

The Arizona Department of Economic Security announced Friday that it would begin offering the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for residents on May 12. The rollout will be done via Geographic Solutions Inc., a private contractor. 

Payments will be distributed that week.

“We recognize the critical importance of these benefits for Arizonans who are out of work due to COVID-19,” said Tom Betlach, from the Office of the Director. “This solution will help get benefits to people faster, with payments being made retroactively for those eligible. We will continue to put forward all available resources, including working nights and weekends, to stand up this brand-new program to get individuals the help they need.”

The new unemployment funding will provide up to 39 weeks of benefits for those that qualify. They’ll receive between $117 and $240 weekly, in addition to the $600 per week included in another part of the CARES Act President Trump signed into law in March. Payments can be retroactive, if necessary.

People who qualify:

  • have exhausted all rights to such benefits,
  • are self-employed,
  • are seeking part-time employment,
  • lack sufficient work history, or
  • otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or Federal law or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

Nearly 72,000 Arizona residents applied for unemployment benefits last week, a drop from the week prior but a continuation of the five-week surge in claims as businesses considered nonessential shutter as a result of stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

DES said they distributed a record $150.9 million in benefits to unemployed workers, which included the additional CARES Act funding.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.