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Arizona expands unemployment coverage to those self-isolating for CV-19

Arizona residents who are self-quarantined under medical instruction or caring for family are now eligible for unemployment benefits under coronavirus-prompted legislation signed Friday.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed the law, passed March 23, saying it will "waive certain requirements for unemployment eligibility, giving hardworking Arizonans the helping hand they need while we get through this difficult time."

The move expands eligibility for unemployment benefits from workers who have lost their jobs to any worker who is:

  • Not receiving wages due to their workplace closing due to COVID-19 — even if the individual intends to go back to work when the business reopens; or
  • Following directives to self-quarantine and intend to return to work; or
  • Has left employment to care for a family member.

Including funding from the federal coronavirus stimulus bill passed this week, workers are eligible to up to $840 per week for four months while jobless because of the pandemic.

The law applies retroactively to March 10.

Last week, Ducey issued an executive order waiving the one-week "waiting period" before a worker who lost a job could apply for benefits, and also removed the requirement to search for work while receiving benefits. 

Nearly 30,000 Arizonans filed unemployment claims last week, more than eight times the average weekly rate of 3,500 claims before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, state officials said Tuesday.

The Arizona Department of Economic Security is “doing everything possible to get Arizonans benefits as soon as possible,” which includes hiring more workers, approving more hours and taking applications by phone, an agency spokesperson said.

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The new jobless claims come as travel and tourism in the state have been hit “so quickly and so significantly” by cancellations from travelers worried about coronavirus and restrictions on foreign travel into the U.S. It also led to the cancellation of spring training for Major League Baseball teams in Arizona, a popular destination for sports fans.

The job losses also come as some of the largest cities in the state ordered the shut-down of bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters and other gathering places in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Under state law, Arizonans who lose a job through no fault of their own can receive unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks and receive up to $240 per week. The federal stimulus bill passed this week adds 13 weeks to that period, and adds $600 per week to the standard state benefit for the next four months.

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Jobless claims in Arizona jumped to more than eight times their normal level last week, to 29,000, as the first wave of layoffs from businesses affected by COVID-19 changes hit the state. In a typical week, about 3,500 claims are filed, state officials said.