Connecticut has one of the highest per capita infection rates for COVID-19 in the U.S. As April came to a close, the Constitution State had more than 17,000 cases and had suffered more than 1,000 deaths. Only New York, New Jersey, Louisiana and Massachusetts have been harder hit. The economy has also been hammered. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order closing non-essential businesses to the public effective March 23. In less than a month more than 350,000 Connecticut residents had filed for unemployment. Fortunately, help is available, and in this article we’ll summarize resources available to state residents and businesses.
Connecticut Coronavirus Relief for Individuals
Connecticut has responded to the pandemic by waiving the requirement that unemployed people receiving jobless benefits must look for work during the crisis. However, individuals receiving unemployment should still answer “YES” to Question One on their weekly claim.
Another new state program concerns healthcare. If you are insured, and receive emergency services, the healthcare provider can bill your insurance provider directly. Your insurance provider must reimburse the healthcare provider as though services were rendered by an in-network healthcare provider. If you are uninsured, the hospital cannot bill you for treating and managing your COVID-19 case. This became effective as of April 5 and will remain for the duration of the public health emergency (which began March 10, 2020), including any extensions or renewals.
Connecticut also has some pre-existing programs that can help residents of the state, like its paid sick leave law. It will help some workers cover absences that happen because of COVID-19. Covered service workers and individuals who work for employers with 50 or more employers receive 40 hours of sick leave per year for the following reasons:
- A service worker’s illness, injury, or health issue
- Medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a service worker’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition
- Preventative medical care for a service worker
- The illness, injury, or health issue of a service worker’s child or spouse
- The medical diagnosis, or care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of a service worker’s spouse or child
- Preventative medical care for a service worker’s spouse or child
Connecticut Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses
Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program
Under the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program, small businesses and nonprofits with 100 or fewer employees that were negatively impacted by coronavirus were able to apply for one-year, no-interest loans. Real estate, multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, and firearms companies were not able to apply for this program.
The program launched on March 26, and stopped accepting applications the evening of March 27, as they had already received about 5,200 applications. The state said this initial round of funding for the program was closed for applications to ensure that those that have been received so far can be processed efficiently and money distributed as quickly as possible. Connecticut may resume taking applications.
Loan amounts for each business are up to three months operating expenses, capped at $75,000. To be eligible for the loan, the business must have been profitable before March 10, 2020, and have no adverse personal credit reports 60 days past due in the last 6 months. Although they have stopped accepting applications, you can see more about application information here.
Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund Voucher Program
Connecticut’s Manufacturing Voucher Program is giving priority and focus to manufacturers realigning or expanding capacity and capabilities to respond to the shortages of critical medical equipment and supplies. Eligible manufacturers can apply for grants up to $75,000 for realigning or expanding capacity and capabilities to address shortages of critical medical equipment and supplies. These include, but are not limited to isolation gowns, face masks, and respirators. Processing of projects that are not COVID-19 related will be put on hold at least through the end of April. The grants can be used for working capital, new equipment, or other purposes that help companies produce these needed products. Applications will be reviewed and approved based on the state’s needs for medical equipment and supplies related to the covid-19 crisis. Businesses must match the funding one-to-one. You can apply to the program here.
Additional State Help
The state also instituted a free month payment holiday for small business express borrowers, a mortgage grace period, a 60-day grace period on insurance, moratoriums on evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs and a two-month sales tax grace period for small businesses with sales tax payments of $100,000 or less in the past fiscal year. Details are on DRS’s website.
Finally, the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development is assisting clients and connecting them to resources. General inquiries can be sent to DECD.COVID19@ct.gov.
Federal Coronavirus Relief for Individuals
The $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, also known as the CARES Act, includes several major relief programs for individuals affected by the coronavirus. The act includes enhanced unemployment benefits, paid coronavirus sick leave, a tax deadline extension, and coronavirus student relief programs.
The CARES Act also established a direct stimulus check program. The stimulus checks are sent directly to all Americans within certain income levels, even if they cannot prove they have been directly affected by the virus. Individuals can receive up to $1,200, while married couples can earn up to $2,400 (plus $500 per dependent). However, the amount you get is affected by your adjusted gross income (AGI). Specifically, individuals won’t receive anything if they make $99,000 or more. The cut-off limit for married couples is $198,000, and it’s $136,500 for heads of household. SmartAsset’s coronavirus stimulus check calculator can help you determine how much you may receive in your stimulus check.
If you lose your job due to coronavirus-related reasons, there are enhanced unemployment benefits available. The three key unemployment relief programs the CARES Act introduced were: Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). This unemployment benefits expansion allows you to claim an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits (pushing the total to 39 for most states). This expanded unemployment relief also allows freelancers to claim unemployment if their income has been affected by the crisis.
Federal Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses
If you own a small business impacted by coronavirus, your business also qualifies for federal aid. The CARES Act created relief programs for small businesses, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created to help small businesses rebuild revenue. PPP allows qualifying businesses with no more than 499 employees to borrow 2.5 times its average monthly payroll costs or up to $10 million (excluding salaries that are $100,000 or more.) Small business owners can apply through a local PPP lender.
Small businesses can also apply for for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which are Small Business Administration (SBA). These SBA loans offer eligible businesses an emergency cash advance of $10,000, with loans of up to $2 million for businesses and non-profits. You can apply here. Other types of widely accessible coronavirus relief for businesses are the the SBA 7(a) loan program and the SBA Debt Relief Program.
The Bottom Line
Although applications for Connecticut’s main small business relief program are closed, the Department of Economic and Community Development is still helping small businesses find alternative options. In addition, the state is offering resources for individuals, and help is also available from the federal government for both individuals and small businesses. Look into the available programs and see what the best options for you might be.
Tips for Managing Finances in the Crisis
- If you’d like professional help protecting your finances against the recession, a financial advisor can help. Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- The government is offering various types of financial aid to those affected by the pandemic. One is providing stimulus checks. If you’re struggling to meet your rent or mortgage payments, check out coronavirus rent and mortgage relief. A budget can also help you cut down expenses and deduct more of your money toward savings, so check our free budget calculator to help you set one up.
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