COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits to Begin April 13, Governor Says

Governor John Bel Edwards announced major relief programs that will be made available to Louisianians under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act today. 

Beginning Monday, April 13, unemployment benefits for “gig economy” workers – in the form of weekly $600 checks – will be made available to Louisiana residents who filed for unemployment. This promises major relief for New Orleans residents in particular, many of whom have been without income since the economic downturn last month. Benefits are available to those who re-certify each week, and they last until July 31. 

Governor Edwards stressed that residents who have been unable to file by phone should continue trying at other times or file online. He noted that in a little over a month, from March 1 to April 4 of this year, 277,000 residents filed for unemployment with the Louisiana Workforce Commission – compared to 103,000 throughout all of 2019. 

Governor Edwards also reported that the Federally Qualified Health Centers across the state will begin to receive $27 million in additional aid from the federal government. Optimistically, the governor stated that the data now do not predict a shortage of care within the next ten days. 

Balancing the good news with the bad, Governor Edwards reported another 70 deaths statewide, while hospitalization rates and the number of patients on ventilators declined. A total of 1,983 residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, marking a slight decrease from yesterday, and a total of 490 residents are on ventilators, a decrease of 29 from yesterday.

Despite the positive trend, the governor took pains to urge continued compliance with state stay at home mandates. “If we are seeing fewer cases, it is because of the efforts we are making to minimize contact,” Governor Edwards stated. “If at any time the people of Louisiana decide not to follow these orders, the numbers will spike.”

In an effort to expand testing statewide, the state announced its first two Walmart self-test facilities – one opening today in Shreveport, and one opening Saturday, April 11 in Laplace. 

Governor Edwards sought to address the racial disparity in deaths from coronavirus. In Louisiana, 70% of those who have succumbed to the disease are Black. Dr. Corey Hebert, the Chief Medical Officer for Dillard University, placed the blame on structural barriers that Black Louisianians face statewide. “Our job as a society is to protect the most vulnerable,” he said, and African Americans have been historically overlooked. Dr. Hebert reminded the audience that Governor Edwards took measures immediately to address the racial disparity in coronavirus outcomes across Louisiana, particularly by expanding Medicaid.

Dr. Hebert urged Black residents to live healthier lives by quitting smoking, eating healthier, and reducing stress. “This is a defining moment for African Americans,” he said, closing with a note of hope. “We will win.” 

The governor took citizen questions for the second day today. People in Louisiana who would like to ask Governor Edwards a question can do so by emailing

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