Nearly 1.6 million Georgians have filed for unemployment due to COVID-19, according to the state Department of Labor.
Nearly half of them qualify for state unemployment and the other half, officials say, could still qualify for federal benefits of $600 a week.
Officials say many people are filing for unemployment for the first time and don’t know they have to verify their status with the Department every week in order to keep receiving payments.
The Department is getting an overwhelming number of calls and is still understaffed to handle the claims. One of its offices had to close because several employees there tested positive for the virus.
This comes as the Georgia Department of Health confirmed more than 32,000 cases of COVID-19 in the state and 1,399 deaths as of 7 p.m. Friday.
University System OKs Plan That Includes As Needed Furlough
Georgia’s Board of Regents approved a plan Thursday that would let the university system furlough staff if needed, due to an expected drop in state revenue caused by the coronavirus.
University System chancellor Steve Wrigley said the furloughs will be part of a budget reduction plan submitted to state lawmakers.
“Nothing will be final until we get a budget bill that’s approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor,” he said.
Under the plan, a staff member’s salary would determine how many days he or she would be furloughed.
The university system is trying to reduce its budget for the upcoming fiscal year by 14%, as requested by Governor Brian Kemp.
DeKalb Church Hosting Free Testing
A DeKalb County church is hosting its second, free drive-thru coronavirus test site, set to open on Monday.
Testing will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. at House of Hope Atlanta, in Decatur.
During the first trial run, hundreds of unregistered people drove up and waited more than three hours to get a test in their cars writing down names and numbers on slips of paper.
Now the DeKalb Board of Health says online registration will open Friday at midnight.
Officials say anyone can be tested, including those who aren’t showing symptoms.
To register, call 404-294 -3700 or visit Georgia Dot Gov.
Atlanta Flags To Fly At Half Mast
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is ordering flags on city buildings to be flown at half staff in remembrance of victims of COVID-19.
She says flags will stay lowered until the number confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Georgia stops going up.
There have been more than 1,300 confirmed deaths in Georgia from COVID-19.
Atlanta United Says There’s Still A Chance For A Full Season
Atlanta United president Darren Eales says there’s still a chance Major League Soccer could have its full season before the end of the year–that is if playing resumes by the end of July.
He says since player contracts run through Dec. 31, the schedule could be pushed back to end that day.
MLS shut down in mid-March because of the coronavirus outbreak.