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Chamber: Unemployment benefits may be available for quarantined workers

As the COVID-19 case count grows in Cook County, medical professionals are stressing the importance of staying home if you feel ill — even if you think it might just be a cold or sinus infection. In interviews with WTIP, our public health officials remind us that those seemingly mild symptoms are what COVID-19 could look like for some people.

Those health officials urge people to contact the local health clinic for advice if they feel ill. If it is determined that a test is needed, that person is then advised to follow the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control guidelines to quarantine for 14 days.

Likewise, if a person is contacted and informed that they have been in contact with someone who has had a positive COVID-19 result, they are asked to quarantine for 14 days.

However, for many northlanders, 14 days away from work can be financially difficult, perhaps even devastating.

Cook County Chamber Director Jim Boyd has done some research and there may be financial assistance available. Boyd recently shared information with chamber members on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

This act covers all employers with fewer than 500 employees. It assists employers in paying workers absent due to coronavirus quarantine for two weeks or 80 hours of sick leave.

More information on filing for this federal assistance can be found on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) website.

Director Boyd also reached out to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and learned that state unemployment benefits are applicable in this case. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the normal one week waiting period for benefits has been waived. Although unemployment does not pay full wages, it could be helpful. For information on Minnesota unemployment, visit the DEED website here.