Your COVID-19 Questions, Answered

April 3, 2020
Weekly Columns

Ever since Congress passed the $2 trillion CARES Act, I know many of you have had questions about what this bill means for you, your families and your businesses. I hosted a telephone town hall to hear from you and answer your questions. UAMS Chancellor Dr. Cam Patterson and Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission Mike Preston joined me on the call, providing helpful insight and resources.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of some of the questions and answers given during the call. I know these are uncertain times, but by working together we will fight this virus. My offices are always open to hear your questions and help in any way we can. Just give us a call at (501) 609-9796.

Q: Will citizens who receive Social Security benefits but did not file an income tax still receive the individual tax rebate?
A: Yes, you are entitled to receive a refund and you do not have to do anything additional to claim it. It will come in the form of direct deposit or in the mail, however you typically receive your benefits.

Q: I am having trouble filing unemployment. What will the timing be for me to file my claim?
A: Typically, the unemployment office receives 1,000 contacts daily, but they are currently getting 30,000 contacts every day. They are working around the clock to improve the system to get the aid to you. The easiest way to apply for unemployment is through this website: Additionally, the state will be able to backpay unemployment benefits to the date of separation. You will receive your money.

Q: Do I need to wear a face mask?
A: Right now, the guidance is that wearing masks is not necessary unless you are suspected of being infected with COVID-19. We are working with Governor Hutchinson to obtain more masks for our frontline caregivers at this time. However, if you already have a mask lying around your house, it certainly wouldn't hurt to wear it outside.

Q: I am a small business owner and want to continue to pay my employees rather than lay them off. What steps do I need to take to keep my business running?
A: Under the CARES Act, there’s a Small Business Administration loan, and you qualify if your business is under 500 employees. Your bank will give you the information to fill out the application form. The loan will be the amount of two months of operation, so you can continue to pay your employees and other business expenses.