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Sen. Coons offers update on federal COVID-19 response

Unemployment insurance, small business loans and the CARES Act were among the issues Sen. Chris Coons discussed with members of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Monday.


Coons told New Castle County business leaders he isn’t surprised by the unemployment processing delays at Department of Labor offices locally and around the country because their IT systems are so out of date.

And Coons says the Treasury Department has ruled that it will allow states like Delaware to tap COVID-19 relief funds to pay out unemployment insurance benefits.  

"They will allow states to use the CARES Act funding to replenish depleted unemployment insurance pools because, frankly, I've heard from many of you a grave concern that as soon as possible the unemployment insurance rate will skyrocket because Delaware's fund is nearly depleted or now is depleted," said Coons.

But Coons adds he doesn’t see any extension of the enhanced unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act because there’s a lack of support for it from Senate Republicans. That enhancement, which gives people an extra $600 a week, is scheduled to end at the end of July.

Coons adds he has also advocated for trade organizations and Chambers of Commerce with the Treasury Dept. and SBA about eligibility for loans and grants when it comes to SBA assistance, he hopes to get some updated direction there soon.

Coons also supports legislation for more federal funding to states to help kick the start economy.

That includes giving states wide flexibility to use the funding they’ve from Congress as needed.

"The restrictions on how Delaware is able to use its funding right now pretty tightly constrain what the state is able to do with the 1.25 billion that in total the state of Delaware and New Castle County received," said Coons. "I do think there should be more flexibility to allow states and state legislatures to decide how to respond to the pandemic."

States have lobbied the federal government to let them use the funding to cover budget shortfalls created by shutting down their economies.


Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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