Eleanor Dearman, El Paso Times
Published 4:13 p.m. MT April 30, 2020 | Updated 5:15 p.m. MT April 30, 2020
Anita Volf and Xavier Gonzales talk about how they are taking it one day at a time after both being laid-off recently Wednesday, April 1, in El Paso.
El Paso Times
As some Texas businesses prepare to open Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued a new guidance for the state commission that handles unemployment claims.
The guidance would permit some who choose not to go back to work due to health concerns or a need for child care during the COVID-19 outbreak to still receive unemployment benefits.
Abbott instructed the Texas Workforce Commission that Texans could continue to receive unemployment benefits if they choose not to return to work for the following reasons:
They are 65 years or older, making them at a higher risk for the coronavirus. They live with someone who is 65 years or older and at higher risk for the coronavirus. They have tested positive for the coronavirus "by a source authorized by the State of Texas" and haven't recovered.A family member has tested positive for the coronavirus and a 14 days haven't passed. They are quarantined due to close contact exposure to the coronavirus. Their child's school or daycare is closed and they have no alternative for child care.
Other situations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, according to a news release from the governor's office.
"As the Lone Star State begins the process of safely and strategically opening the economy, our top priority is protecting the health and safety of all Texans—especially those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19," Abbott said in a statement. "This flexibility in the unemployment benefit process will help ensure that Texans with certain health and safety concerns will not be penalized for choosing not to return to work."
Abbott on Monday announced he was letting the state's stay-at-home order lapse and that certain businesses — including malls and restaurants — could open at limited capacity Friday.
Earlier in the week, the Texas Tribune and the Dallas Morning News reported that those who choose to not return to work become ineligible for benefits.
After the Texas Tribune article published, a spokesperson for the Texas Workforce Commission said the agency was coming up with parameters for how Texans could keep receiving unemployment benefits if they refuse work at reopened business due to health concerns, according to the non-profit news organization's article.
“Abbott's overlooking of the elderly who can no longer seek unemployment benefits was yet another example of how he's utterly mismanaged the crisis and botched the gradual reopening of Texas business,” said Abhi Rahman, spokesperson for the Texas Democratic Party.
The Department of State Health Services on Thursday reported more than 28,000 coronavirus cases in the state. There have been 782 fatalities, according to the department.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expresses optimism during a coronavirus news conference Friday, April 10, 2020, in Austin. Abbott also said the state's death toll was lower than many other states. (Photo: Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman)
Eleanor Dearman may be reached at 361-244-0047; email@example.com; @EllyDearman on Twitter.
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