Stitt Submits Application for $300 Unemployment Benefit
Mike Seals - August 18, 2020 9:27 am
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Monday that he has submitted an application for unemployed Oklahomans to receive an additional $300 in federal unemployment benefits.
Once the Federal Emergency Management Agency approves the state’s grant application, the federal government will fund the $300-per-week benefit and Oklahoma will fulfill the 25% state match through existing unemployment benefits, Stitt said.
“As we are months ahead of other states in our recovery and Oklahoma is open for business, many Oklahomans have returned to work or are in training to take on a new career,” Stitt said in a statement. “However, we also want to continue to help those who are still working to secure employment.”
For months, on top of their state benefit, unemployed Americans also collected $600 a week in federal jobless aid, but that expired at the end of July, and negotiations in Congress to extend it collapsed.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that would provide $300 a week to replace the expired $600.
Unemployed Oklahomans have faced numerous challenges in receiving their unemployment benefits, with lines of people often stretching for blocks outside the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. The agency has blamed delays on an outdated computer system, and Interim OESC Director Shelley Zumwalt acknowledged some delays in the new benefit should be expected.
“Regardless of the timeline, the benefit will be retroactive to Aug. 1, and all eligible claimants will receive back pay to that date once changes to the system have been put into production,” Zumwalt said.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma reported 569 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Monday and four additional deaths. The true number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
The latest report brings the total number of confirmed cases in Oklahoma to 48,711 and the total number of deaths to 665.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.