State set to issue first bonus payments to returning workers

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Returning to the ranks of the employed is paying off for nearly 1,500 formerly unemployed workers who are receiving the first $1,000 bonus payments under the Back to Work CT program.

The governor’s office on Monday announced checks are being mailed out to the initial round of recipients who met the federally funded incentive program’s eligibility requirements.

The Back to Work CT program is offering the one-time bonus to the first 10,000 rehired workers who can show they have maintained full-time employment for eight consecutive weeks between May 30 and Dec. 31. Gov. Ned Lamont is using $10 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to finance the program.

The Lamont administration offered the $1,000 bonus payment to provide extra incentive for the long-term unemployed to rejoin the full-time workforce. The initiative is open to individuals who filed for a weekly unemployment claim for the week of May 23-29.

The state market is still recovering from historic unemployment highs in the COVID-19 pandemic. Through July, the state economy recovered 196,400 of the record 292,400 jobs lost during March and April 2020 at the onset of the state outbreak when Lamont ordered a partial economic shut down.

“Many workers who were displaced during the early months in the pandemic and faced long-term unemployment are now transitioning back into the workforce and starting to rebuild,” Lamont said.

He said recipients can use the $1,000 being used to help pay for child care, or transportation, or clothing, or some other expenses that present obstacles to some long-term unemployed people returning to work.

State health officials reported Monday there were 1,361 new cases of COVID-19 between Friday and Sunday, bringing the running total since March 2020 to 372,069 cases.

The positive test rate over the weekend was 3.1% based on 43,780 test results that had been received.

There were 380 patients hospitalized Monday with confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 121 patients in Hartford County, 117 patients in New Haven County and 89 patients in Fairfield County.

There have been 8,355 deaths in Connecticut attributed to COVID-19 or complications from the disease, according to the latest weekly report.

There have been 3,812 COVID-19 cases in Naugatuck, 1,029 in Prospect and 625 in Beacon Falls since last March, according to health officials.

There have been 95 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck, six in Beacon Falls and five in Prospect.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this article.