NC April 21 COVID-19 update: Cooper announces unemployment help for furloughed workers


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper said a new executive order will extend unemployment benefits to furloughed workers – who were previously ineligible for such benefits.

Cooper said the state has issued $580 million in unemployment funds to 257,000 people since the start of the pandemic.

“We know this virus is taking a toll on our economy,”

Cooper went on to say he hopes he can work with state lawmakers to extend more help to North Carolinians when they return to Raleigh next week.

The governor said more funding needs to be available to small businesses and that help is part of a budget proposal being worked on.

“Small businesses are the life blood of our economy,” Cooper said.

Exact details of the new executive order were not immediately available.

Highlights from Cooper’s press conference

Unemployment help for furloughed workers

Cooper announced he signed an executive order on Tuesday to help workers furloughed due to COVID-19 qualify for unemployment benefits. Before the order, employees who had been paid severance or furloughed by employers were ineligible for unemployment, Cooper says. To visit North Carolina’s unemployment website, click here.

“We are working with legislators to try to codify into law this order and my other orders on unemployment benefits. Next week when the General Assembly returns, we hope to get consensus on more help for North Carolina,” Cooper said. 

Focusing federal help

Cooper says his team and legislators are working to decide how federal relief funding for North Carolina will be allocated. Cooper says his budget proposal focus on three broad areas: immediate public safety needs such as testing and personal protective equipment; funding for schools and other core government services; and small business and local government assistance.

Cooper says many North Carolina hospitals have the supplies they need due to public response, but PPE is still needed to frontline workers such as EMTs, etc. and for some medical providers.

Coopers says he and General Assembly leaders agree more needs to be done to help small businesses, and funding will go to the Rapid Recovery Program in coordination with the Golden LEAF Foundation.

Cooper on protestors in Raleigh on Tuesday

Responding to a question about some people who gathered in Raleigh on Tuesday to protest his stay-at-home restrictions, Cooper says he understands North Carolinians can’t stay at home forever, but restrictions must be replaced gradually, “responsibly,” because “this virus is going to be with us until we have a vaccine” and it can spike again. Cooper says that guidelines so far have been able to limit the amount of strain on North Carolina’s hospitals so far.

“Let’s keep looking out for each other. Right now, staying home is saving lives.”

Previous coverage on Tuesday’s COVID-19 numbers in North Carolina below

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina health officials reported 34 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday – marking the deadliest day for the state since the beginning of the pandemic.

A total of 213 deaths are being attributed to COVID-19 aross 93 counties.

85 percent of North Carolina’s coronavirus-related deaths are those ages 65+.

Nursing homes and care facilities have reported at least 89 deaths.

The confirmed number of cases is now 6,951 from 83,331 completed tests, the Department of Health and Human Services said. Cases increased by 187 from Monday.

Here’s the latest breakdown in northeast North Carolina and the Outer Banks:

Gates: 4

Pasquotank: 32 cases – 1 death

Dare: 11 cases

Currituck: 2 cases

Chowan: 6 cases

Hertford: 10 cases – 1 death

Bertie: 24 cases — 1 death

Camden: 0 cases

Hospitalizations continued their up-and-down trend, going up to 427 on Tuesday.

Gov. Roy Cooper is slated to speak at 2 p.m. Tuesday. 

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