HARRISBURG (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf says the state labor department has started sending out expanded federal unemployment compensation payments provided by the coronavirus relief package approved by Congress.
The measure temporarily provides an additional $600 per week and makes self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers eligible for benefits. It also extends unemployment compensation benefits for an additional 13 weeks.
The federal benefits are in addition to Pennsylvania’s regular unemployment benefit, which is about half of a person’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week for 26 weeks.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry issued the first $600 payments Friday, and officials said eligible people who filed biweekly claims for the week ending April 4 and who received their regular unemployment compensation payment should expect to see the additional money either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
A measure signed by the governor last month waives the one-week waiting period for filing for unemployment compensation as well as the job search and work registration requirements.
State health authorities say nearly 500 people have died among those who have tested positive in Pennsylvania for the coronavirus, while the number of cases now tops 20,000, with cases reported in every county in the commonwealth.
The state’s health department on Saturday reported more than 21,600 total cases in all 67 counties, with 494 deaths, all adults. Officials say most of the patients hospitalized are ages 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients of that age range.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.