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Coronavirus money update: Stimulus checks round 2, unemployment benefits, $900 next week

It can be confusing to keep up with the latest coronavirus financial relief information, so WFMY News 2 has compiled the latest in North Carolina.

NORTH CAROLINA, USA — It can be confusing to keep up with the latest coronavirus financial relief information, so WFMY News 2 compiled the latest updates on another possible stimulus check, state unemployment insurance, rental and utility assistance, and federal unemployment relief in North Carolina.

Unemployed North Carolinians to receive up to $900 as soon as next week

People who are unemployed and eligible will receive an additional $300 per week from the Lost Wages Assistance program through FEMA.

The first batch of money will be $900, totaled retroactively $300 each for the weeks ending Aug. 1, Aug. 8, and Aug. 15.

To be eligible, your unemployment benefit amount must have been at least $100 a week, and you must be out of work due to COVID-19, according to North Carolina Divisio of Employment Security.

On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper said FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor are working to get the $900 payment out by “sometime next week.”

"You do not have to file a separate claim or application for Lost Wages Assistance. However, you may need to self-certify whether you are unemployed due to COVID-19 for DES to determine your eligibility for LWA," according to the NCDES site. 

The additional federal unemployment money was enacted in an executive order by President Trump on Aug. 8, after plans for another stimulus check reached a standstill.

While the end date is unclear, the extra money for unemployed people will keep coming each week as long as FEMA funds are available, with the program lasting a maximum through the end of 2020.

NC unemployment benefits: Republicans and Democrats want an increase, but disagree on amount

NC Republicans want to raise state unemployment insurance benefits by $50, while Democratic Governor Roy Cooper want to increase the maximum payout by $150.

Lawmakers return to Raleigh next Wednesday, where they are expected to make a decision.

North Carolina’s state unemployment benefits currently are capped at $350 per week for 12 weeks. Recall that the additional $600 for unemployed people through the federal CARES Act expired on July 31.

On Friday, NC Republicans at the General Assembly stated their plan to raise state unemployment benefits by $50, with the money coming from remaining federal coronavirus relief funds.

On the other hand, Cooper reiterated on Wednesday he proposed increasing the maximum unemployment benefit to $500 a week and extend the duration from 12 to 24 weeks.

North Carolina still has about $900 million of the CARES act remaining to allocate of the original $3.5 billion.

Relief money for NC rent and utility bills

On Tuesday, Cooper announced $175 million to help people behind on rent or utility payments.

The money will be distributed to local community agencies, who will then pay out to families with bills. 

Applications for the relief money will be available once the program launches "in the coming weeks."

Stimulus check round 2? Unlikely to happen soon.

An additional stimulus check for Americans is unlikely to happen anytime soon, as Republicans and Democrats in Washington D.C. have not been able to reach an agreement on the larger bill the checks are included in.

Congress is on recess until Labor Day. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that stimulus talks have reached a “stalemate.”

Republicans and Democrats included another $1,200 direct payment to Americans in their respective relief bills. 

Since the Democrats proposed their $3 trillion “HEROES Act” and Republicans set forth their $1 trillion “HEALS Act”, both sides have been unable to agree on a total dollar amount in the middle. Hence the second $1,200 stimulus check, included in both bills, remains just an idea.


FACTS NOT FEAR

Remember facts, not fear when talking about the coronavirus. You should take the safety measures recommended by health leaders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Abide by the three W's. That means wearing a mask, washing your hands, and waiting at least six feet from another person. You also want to avoid touching your face and make sure to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw it away.

WHERE YOU GET INFORMATION ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS IS IMPORTANT

It is important to make sure the information you are getting about the coronavirus is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. Be careful not to spread misinformation about coronavirus on social media. 

For more information visit the CDC OR NCDHHS

NC CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE 

The state also has a special hotline set up where you can call 866-462-3821 for more information on the coronavirus. You can also submit questions online at ncpoisoncontrol.org or select chat to talk with someone about the virus.

You can also text keyword VIRUS to WFMY News 2 at 336-379-5775 for the latest.

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