Workers may qualify for unemployment insurance payouts
With business in Grand County ground to a halt by public health measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, many workers have been left without tours to lead, equipment to rent, rooms to clean and the many other jobs that keep Moab’s tourism economy turning.
The stoppage has led the U.S. Congress to extend unemployment benefits to people who would not typically qualify, send checks to families and individuals, open up loan opportunities for small businesses to incentivize continuing employment and other measures.
No shortage of loans and grants exists for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, particularly those in rural areas. Entities extending help to such businesses include the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Utah COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force, the Grand County Department of Economic and Community Development and other entities.
For small businesses, the county’s economic development team has been sending regular newsletters in recent weeks with lists of resources available to Grand County businesses affected by COVID-19. To browse recent updates and sign up for future notifications, visit www.grandcountyutah.net/149/Community-Economic-Development.
For residents in economic distress amid the COVID-19 pandemic, here is a list of the resources, boiled down to the essentials:
Unemployment insurance payouts
Workers who have recently found themselves without a job, particularly if it is a result of changes related to COVID-19, can apply for unemployment benefits through the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Residents can check their eligibility and start a claim at jobs.utah.gov/ui/home.
Employees who would not typically qualify for unemployment benefits may qualify under recent changes by the U.S. Congress to unemployment insurance. Workforce Services advises that “each separation is unique and would have to be dealt with individually before eligibility can be assessed.” With that caveat, here are some examples of workers who can qualify for unemployment insurance benefits:
- Formerly full-time workers now facing reduced hours may qualify for benefits
- Formerly part-time workers
- Workers who have been temporarily laid off or furloughed
- Workers who quit or take time off after contracting COVID-19
Workforce Services has a frequently-asked-questions document with further information about qualifying for unemployment insurance payouts. That document is available at www.moabtimes.com/covid-unemployment-faqs.
Residents who do not qualify for unemployment insurance payouts may still qualify for other help, for example with food and groceries through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and other financial assistance programs. Apply for other help at jobs.utah.gov/mycase.
The Department of Workforce Services hosts virtual workshops for employees who have recently been laid off with further information about resources available to workers who were recently laid off. The workshops are hosted twice daily every weekday. Access the workshops by creating an account at jobs.utah.gov and looking for the workshop on the calendar there.
Direct assistance for locals
The Moab Multicultural Center is gathering information about community needs through an online survey. You can access the survey by going to www.moabtimes.com/cultural-center-covid-survey. The survey is hosted on Facebook, but completing the survey does not require an account.
Immediate Relief Vouchers provided through WabiSabi are available by phone at the following locations: Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center (435-259-2229), Four Corners Community Behavioral Health (435-259-6131), Moab Valley Multicultural Center, (435-259-5444), Grand County Family Support Center (435-259-1658), and Moab Free Health Clinic (435-259-1113).
Despite its storefront closure, WabiSabi is still offering curbside pickup for community donations. Call ahead at 435-259-3313 to coordinate pickup of needed supplies.
Dave Bierschied and Moab Realty have established a donation program accessible through www.moabcovid.org. Local residents may apply for help on the website, where links to other resources are also available, or offer items for donation.