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January 1, Cash Strapped States Struggle with Unemployment Claims



This Day in History | 1968

The Rev. Marten Luther King, Jr. is shot and killed in Memphis Tennessee by assassin James Earl Ray. 

Good Morning Middle Americans, 

If you are one of the 10 million Americans who are facing uncertainty due to job or wage loss, you are probably also dealing with a lot of frustration when it comes to filing for your unemployment.  As one expert said, “nobody” was prepared for 10 million unemployment claims. But here we are. 

Some people are heading for the hills, or other remote areas to ride out the pandemic. Another fascinating example of how this situation is changing the behavior or our entire country. 

Finally today we have a story that gives us more perspective on the testing process failures that are obscuring the real number of COVID-19 cases. 

Read all about it .

-Fraser Dixon

Nearly Half of States Do Not Have Enough Funds to Pay All Those Unemployment Claims

(NBC News) – Even as states are struggling to process a record number of jobless claims, experts warn that even greater challenges loom: A Labor Department report found that, as recently as February, unemployment insurance trust funds in nearly half the states were underfunded.

The staggering 6.6 million jobless claims filed last week call into question even the best-funded states’ ability to pay unemployment benefits over a sustained period, said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, making it likelier than not that more federal intervention will be needed.

“We’re talking about 10 million people filing for unemployment insurance in two weeks. Nobody is prepared for that,” he said. “That’s unprecedented.”

Find out more here

Amid COVID-19 Scare, Americans Flock to Survival Retreats

(Reuters) –As Americans stockpile basic supplies, pet food and school items amid coronavirus-related closures and “shelter-in-place” orders, many are turning to another strategy to protect their families: fleeing to remote areas.

With branches in multiple U.S. states, Fortitude Ranch dubs itself a “survival community” and offers paying members access to remote, secure grounds and residences under the motto “Prepare for the worst, enjoy the present”.

The ranch has seen a “huge surge” of interest in joining its survival retreats amid the pandemic, said chief executive Drew Miller, who estimated inquiries have increase tenfold.

“People are concerned that if this virus mutates to be more lethal … or if these short periods of quarantine don’t work, the economy collapses, food distribution gets disrupted, then law and order can break down,” Miller told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Learn more here

Inside the Coronavirus Testing Failure

(Washington Post) – On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing “unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,” according to an email summarizing the call.

“We’re in good hands,” a public health official who participated in the call wrote in the email to colleagues.

“We’re in good hands,” a public health official who participated in the call wrote in the email to colleagues.

Three weeks later, early on Feb. 8, one of the first CDC test kits arrived in a Federal Express package at a public health laboratory on the east side of Manhattan. By then, the virus had reached the United States, and the kits represented the government’s best hope for containing it while that was still possible.

For hours, lab technicians struggled to verify that the test worked. Each time, it fell short, producing untrustworthy results.

That night, they called their lab director, Jennifer Rakeman, an assistant commissioner in the New York City health department, to tell her it had failed. “Oh, s—,” she replied. “What are we going to do now?”

Read more here

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