Florida Governor Ron DeSantis defended unvaccinated people who were getting sick from COVID-19 on Tuesday, saying the media was being “judgmental.”
While speaking to the press in Miami on Tuesday, DeSantis was asked about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated people in Florida, WESH reported.
“When somebody contracts a highly transmissible airborne virus, they’re viewed as having done something wrong,” he said. “And that’s just not the way you do it when people come in, you treat them. Are you going to sit there and criticize, or are we going to try to treat, and try to help the folks? Nobody’s trying to get ill here.”
DeSantis railed against the press during the briefing, according to WESH, accusing journalists of fear-mongering about the pandemic that has claimed over 600,000 American lives.
DeSantis said that Florida’s hospitals are “open for business” as he spoke to the press on Tuesday.
“Even in places that have more, COVID patients represent a fraction of the overall hospital beds and I don’t want to see a repeat, that people with heart problems don’t go in [to hospitals],” he said. “With all due respect, I find that deplorable to blame a victim who ends up being hospitalized. You don’t know their story. You don’t know what happened.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed an executive order Friday that prohibits schools in the state from requiring students to wear face masks when they return to classrooms in the fall.
The executive order, released Friday, is “effective immediately” and directs the Florida Departments of Health and Education to release emergency rules that stipulate that decisions over whether students will be masked in classrooms will be left up to parents rather than school officials.
According to the order, schools that do not comply with the directives from the Education and Health Departments run the risk of losing funding from the state.
“We think that’s the most fair way to do it,” DeSantis said Friday at an event at an Italian restaurant in Cape Coral, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
“The federal government has no right to tell parents that in order for their kids to attend school in person, they must be forced to wear a mask all day, every day,” DeSantis said in a press release announcing the order.
“Many Florida schoolchildren have suffered under forced masking policies, and it is prudent to protect the ability of parents to make decisions regarding the wearing of masks by their children,” he added.
DeSantis’ order Friday comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week recommended that students and staff at K-12 schools wear masks in the classroom regardless of their vaccination status, as Insider previously reported.
The CDC guidance came amid a broader shift at the agency, which this week recommended that fully vaccinated individuals mask up indoors in areas of the US with high levels of COVID-19 transmission. The CDC in May said that fully vaccinated individuals could ditch their masks in most settings.
The changes, the CDC said, were due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the disease, which is at least partially responsible for the ongoing surge of cases in the US.
“Information on the Delta variant from several states and other countries indicates that, on rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and spread the virus to others,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday. “This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations.”
The US on Friday reported more than 122,000 new cases of the disease, according to data analyzed by The New York Times – the highest single-day increase in more than five months. The state of Florida this week neared its worst COVID-19 week of all time, reporting more than 110,000 new infections over the past seven days, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly met with vaccine skeptics and anti-maskers just days after urging residents in his state to get vaccinated, The Daily Beast reported.
DeSantis met with the group at the state Capitol in Tallahassee on Monday night, The Daily Beast reported. The group included Mark McDonald, a clinical psychiatrist who has suggested that people should acquire “natural immunity” from COVID-19 instead of receiving a vaccine, the outlet said.
In subsequent emails to The Daily Beast, McDonald railed against the vaccination of children against COVID-19, and also suggested that masks and vaccines “don’t work.”
While he insisted in a separate email that he was “not “anti-vaccine” in any sense,” he has previously expressed skepticism towards vaccine efficacy against new strains of COVID-19, The Daily Beast said.
In a Facebook post on July 19, he wrote: “Yesterday just a statistic. Today major news. The experimental vaccines are INEFFECTIVE against the currently circulating non-deadly viral strains. So why are we still ordering everyone to get shots, rather than encourage natural immunity?”
DeSantis attended the meeting just days after he urged Floridians to sign up for vaccinations, The Daily Beast noted. He told a press conference last week: “If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero.”
DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. His spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the governor has been “very clear and consistent in his messaging on COVID-19 vaccines” and is confident that they are “safe for most people and effective in preventing serious illness.”
The spokesperson also noted that DeSantis remained against vaccine passports and mask mandates.
Florida is experiencing its largest number of new coronavirus cases since January, with the state accounting for nearly a quarter of all positive tests in the United States on Wednesday.
Nationally, more than 55,000 people were confirmed to have COVID-19 on July 21. Over 12,600 of those cases were in Florida, or 22.9% of the national tally, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the past seven days, an average of 8,911 have tested positive in the state, or just over 22% of all cases in the US.
At the end of June, by comparison, the state’s seven-day average of new cases was less than 1,700.
The numbers are the worst Florida has seen in months, coinciding with the spread of the more contagious Delta variant, prompting Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to make a new push to get residents vaccinated.
“Here’s, I think, the most important thing with the data: if you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero,” DeSantis said Wednesday.
In May, DeSantis signed legislation that prohibits businesses from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine before providing service, describing vaccination as “your personal choice.”
Just under 57% of adults in Florida are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.
The rise in cases has been accompanied by a surge in hospitalizations. The vast majority of patients are unvaccinated.
“When they come into the system, they say, ‘Can I get vaccinated?’ And at that point, you can’t,” Alix Zacharski, an intensive care clinical nurse manager at Jackson Health System in Miami, told CNN.
Tania Leets-Santana, a spokesperson for Jackson Health System, told Insider that of the 146 patients at the hospital with COVID-19 on Wednesday, “91% are unvaccinated.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged Monday to reverse a court ruling that supports the CDC’s conditional sailing order on cruise lines as the Delta variant surges across the US – even taking the case to the Supreme Court, if necessary, he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set health guidelines and restrictions for cruise lines to follow in order to set sail, which Florida officials claimed were too restrictive and could prevent most cruises from ever hitting the water.
In June, US District Judge Steven Merryday issued a preliminary injunction, which would have overturned the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention starting July 18, but the agency requested to delay the decision.
Late Saturday night, an appellate court panel granted the CDC’s appeal to delay the injunction in a 2-1 decision, which DeSantis promised to overturn via legal action.
“I think that most courts at this point have had their limit with the CDC issuing these dictates without a firm statutory basis,” the Florida governor said at a press conference Monday. “So I’m confident that we’d win on the merits at the full 11th Circuit.”
“Honestly, I’m confident we’d win at the US Supreme Court,” he added.
The CDC order also led to the state filing a lawsuit in April in an attempt to strip the authority of the federal health agency on the state’s cruise industry and lift the restrictions.
“One of the reasons why we did it was not just it’s an important industry for our state,” he said. “We’re committed to that, but it raises a bigger question: Can you just have one agency in the government, without Congress ever passing a law, just basically shutting down an industry?”
“Maybe you don’t care about the cruise industry,” DeSantis continued. “Next time it might be your industry. Next time, it may affect people that you know, or people that depend on this for their livelihood. So I think it raises a lot of important implications.”
DeSantis’ legal fight comes as the US faces the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus amid a growing vaccine divide in the country. Since cruises set sail again last month amid reopening efforts, multiple cruises have reported cases of COVID-19 aboard the boat.
Amid some of the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, and infections in the US, Florida’s GOP governor, Ron DeSantis, is mocking White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci with campaign merchandise released this week.
DeSantis’ campaign team rolled out T-shirts and koozies reading “Don’t Fauci My Florida” on Monday, in the latest Republican stunt against COVID-19 measures.
Since the pandemic began more than a year ago, DeSantis has positioned himself as a vocal opponent to lockdown measures, keeping most of Florida’s schools and businesses open in spite of public-health experts’ calls for social distancing.
Other T-shirts and hats on the DeSantis campaign site read “Keep Florida Free” while certain beer koozies sport a key DeSantis quote that reads “”How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?”
DeSantis’ campaign did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
It’s not the first time DeSantis has slammed Fauci, who also serves as the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In early June, when COVID cases in the state had plateaued as vaccinations became widely available, DeSantis said Florida was faring so well economically because the state did not follow Fauci’s advice.
Fauci has been a vocal proponent of face masks, vaccinations, and social distancing in the face of the pandemic – measures that many conservatives have rallied against, helping to turn Fauci, a medical expert, into a polarizing political figure over the last year.
“We’re going to end up probably having like $10 million in reserve once the new budget takes effect,” DeSantis said in June. “That would not have been possible if we had followed Fauci. Instead we followed freedom. And that’s the reason Florida is doing better.
But the virus outlook in the state has turned worrisome in recent weeks.
As of Wednesday, Florida had the highest number of COVID-19 deaths per capita in the US and the second-highest number of daily reported cases per capita, falling only behind Arkansas, according to The Washington Post COVID-19 tracker..
Fauci, for his part, has brushed off the conservative backlash towards him, previously calling the response “bizarre.”
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
A federal judge has blocked a request from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to maintain COVID-19 restrictions on Florida cruise ships.
Florida District Judge Steven Merryday said in the court filing on Wednesday that his decision was “not about what health precautions against COVID-19 are necessary or helpful” but “about the use and misuse of governmental power.”
The legal battle started in April, when the state of Florida sued the CDC over its stringent rules for the cruise industry, called a Conditional Sailing Order (CSO), which the CDC introduced in October 2020. The CDC had “singled out” the industry, which “as a result, is on the brink of financial ruin,” the state said in the filing.
Under CSO rules added in May, cruise ships can only set sail normally when at least 95% of people on board, including the crew, are fully vaccinated. If not, ship operators must take volunteers on “test” cruises to show they can mitigate COVID-19 transmission.
Merryday said in Wednesday’s court order that the CDC’s “dark allusions” about the prospect of COVID-19 transmission on cruises ignored “state and local health authorities, the industry’s self-regulation, and the thorough and costly preparations and accommodations by all concerned to avoid ‘transmission’ and to confine and control the ‘transmission,’ if one occurs.”
The pandemic has hit the cruise industry hard since its outbreak last year. Cruise ship giant Carnival reported a $2.9 billion net loss in the third quarter of 2020, it said in an earnings filing.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida will not attend former President Donald Trump’s rally in Sarasota on Saturday, as he monitors the aftermath of the deadly condo collapse in Surfside, a town in Miami-Dade County.
DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw told The Hill that the governor would continue to tend to the needs of the affected South Florida community in the wake of the harrowing event.
“We can confirm that the Governor will not attend the rally in Sarasota,” she said in a statement. “He spoke with President Trump, who agreed that this was the right decision, as the Governor’s duty is to be in Surfside making sure the families and community have what they need in the aftermath of the tragic building collapse.”
She added: “Governor DeSantis would have gone to this event in normal circumstances. He is sure the rally will draw a big crowd on this holiday weekend, as many Floridians are excited to attend.”
The development that DeSantis would forgo the event was first reported by The New York Times.
Earlier this week, DeSantis’ office refuted a report that it asked Trump to postpone the event in light of the tragedy in Surfside.
DeSantis “is focusing on his duties as Governor and the tragedy in Surfside, and has never suggested or requested that events planned in different parts of Florida – from the Stanley Cup finals to President Trump’s rally – should be canceled,” the governor’s office said in a statement earlier this week, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The Herald-Tribune reported that Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington said the distance between Surfside and Sarasota precludes any disruption in the rescue efforts.
“Like all Americans, President Trump sends his deepest condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones or been displaced by the terrible tragedy in Surfside,” she said. “The event in Sarasota, however, is on the other side of the state, 3.5 hours away, approximately the same distance from Boston to New York, and will not impact any of the recovery efforts.”
She added: “In fact, President Trump has instructed his team to collect relief aid for Surfside families both online and on-site at the Sarasota rally.”
More than a week after the collapse of the Surfside condo building, there have been 24 confirmed deaths as of Saturday, with 124 people still missing.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the area to mourn with survivors and family members of individuals impacted by the tragedy.
“They’re going through hell,” Biden said of the families during his visit. “Jill and I want them to know that we’re with them and the country’s with them.”
DeSantis, who is seen as a top 2024 GOP presidential prospect in the event that Trump declines to run for office again, praised Biden for his response to the event in a moment of public comity.
“You guys have not only been supportive at the federal level, but we’ve had no bureaucracy,” he said.
Biden responded: “I promise you, there will be none.”
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a new bill into law on Tuesday that requires the state’s public universities to survey faculty, students, and staff on their political beliefs to measure “viewpoint diversity” and fight student “indoctrination.”
The Republican-passed law aims to determine “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented” in classrooms and whether students “feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom,” according to the bill’s text. And it mandates that students “be shown diverse ideas and opinions, including those that they may disagree with or find uncomfortable.”
It remains unclear how the state will use the information it gathers, but free speech scholars and advocates are concerned DeSantis and the legislature will retaliate against universities and their faculty for political reasons. The governor, who’s built a national profile with his Trumpian politics, suggested on Wednesday that the state will cut funding for schools it deems “hotbeds for stale ideology.”
First Amendment experts say the Florida law is unconstitutional and will do the opposite of what it purports to. Instead of promoting free speech, they fear it will both suppress certain viewpoints and undermine academic freedom, as well as force professors to waste time introducing discredited science and theories. And the effort comes amid DeSantis’ broader crackdown on free speech, including Black Lives Matter protests and the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.
Undermining free speech and academic freedom
Critics of Florida’s new law fear DeSantis and the GOP-run state legislature will intimidate universities and chill speech on campus. Micah Kubic, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, said the law is unconstitutional because there is no “overwhelmingly compelling government interest” to warrant suppressing the speech of professors and students.
“This is a really disgraceful move that undermines the First Amendment, that will chill speech on campuses, and I think that trying to brand it as somehow a defense of free speech is an ultimate ‘up is down’ moment,” Kubic told Insider. “Everything about it is designed to chill and intimidate, not to actually cultivate an environment of free speech or dissent.”
He added, “Ron DeSantis disapproving of what you think is not a compelling government interest.”
The ACLU is waiting for more clarity on what the survey will look like and how it will be implemented before making decisions about its legal strategy. Kubic said “all options remain on the table.”
While all public universities are already required to respect the First Amendment, the values of freedom of speech are inconsistent with academic freedom, said Robert Post, a constitutional law professor at Yale and former dean of the school. Professors differentiate between good and bad ideas, and truth and falsehoods, in ways that are inconsistent with promoting “intellectual diversity.” While the government must protect all speech equally, universities regularly grant tenure to faculty, grade students, and award grants – all actions that involve discriminating between ideas.
“We train students to become competent in their disciplines and that, of course, means it’s not a marketplace of ideas, it’s an educational ground for the creation of competence,” Post told Insider. “All ideas are not equal, if you care about competence.”
Requiring “intellectual diversity” in the classroom is akin to mandating a discredited theory like creationism be taught alongside the established science of evolution, Post said. Political science departments shouldn’t hire liberal and conservative professors, they should hire good political scientists, regardless of their personal political beliefs. He fears that the law will empower politicians “who think politics should override truth” and compared the phenomenon to Joseph Stalin’s partnership with the Soviet biologist Trofim Lysenko, who pushed Marxist-approved agricultural pseudoscience that helped drive the country’s deadly famines.
A broader effort to suppress speech
The new law is one of a series of measures DeSantis and his GOP allies have taken to crack down on free speech and regulate education. This spring, DeSantis signed a law that dramatically heightened criminal punishments for protesters. Last week, he preemptively barred Florida schools from teaching about systemic racism and the history of slavery through the lens of critical race theory and The New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project.”
There are a slew of reasons why classrooms are increasingly a battleground for political culture wars. Education polarization in electoral politics has deepened in recent years. College-educated voters were key to President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory and the gap between how college-educated and non-college-educated Americans vote widened last year and is particularly pronounced among white voters. In the 2020 election, Biden won 54% of college-educated white voters, while former President Donald Trump won 63% of non-college white educated voters, according to an analysis of the election results by the Democratic data firm Catalist.
As the country becomes more educated, this widening polarization could present an ongoing challenge for the Republican party across the country. Asserting more control over what is taught in public schools might be one way for the GOP to reverse this trend.
But Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, said this particular effort may well backfire. He thinks faculty and students alike will largely reject the survey and simply refuse to participate in the state’s efforts. The media headlines are the point, he argued, and the GOP’s effort will fail on a practical level.
“Professors are going to boycott it purely because this is a state messing with the education of young people,” he told Insider. “I just know as a dean, trying to get my faculty to respond to any survey – you know, professors are very busy people and they also do not take to authority well.”
Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday that the state was halting its participation in federal unemployment benefits starting June 19.
Those include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program for gig workers and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for the long-term unemployed.
“We have announced the end date of our state of emergency, there are no industry shutdowns, and daycares are operating with no restrictions. Vaccinations are available for all adults. Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work,” Ivey said in a press release.
Experts say other factors are keeping workers from jumping back into the labor force, such as a lack of childcare access and fear of COVID-19 infection.
Alaska will end its participation in the extra $300 in weekly benefits effective June 12.
“As Alaska’s economy opens up, employers are posting a wide range of job opportunities and workers are needed,” labor and workforce development commissioner, Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, said in a statement.
Extensions for the state benefit will continue through September 6.
Arizona, however, is setting aside some federal funds to provide a one-time $2,000 bonus for people who return to work by Sept. 6. There are some strings attached.
People qualify for the measure if they are already receiving jobless aid — and they must earn less than $25 hourly at their next job. That amounts to a yearly salary of $52,000. Individuals must also work 10 weeks with a new employer to get the cash.
The state last recorded an unemployment rate of 6.7%, higher than the 4.9% it had immediately before the pandemic in February 2020.
Arizona’s average jobless payout is $238.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on May 7 that the state would no longer participate in federal unemployment after June 26.
“The $300 federal supplement helped thousands of Arkansans make it through this tough time, so it served a good purpose. Now we need Arkansans back on the job so that we can get our economy back to full speed,” Hutchinson said in a press release, which cited South Carolina’s and Montana’s separate decisions to opt out of the federal assistance program.
Its unemployment rate is 4.4%, slightly higher than the 3.8% level of February 2020. The average weekly benefit in the state is $248.
Florida will end its participation in the $300 in additional weekly benefits effective June 26. However, other federal programs, including PUA, “will continue for the time being as DEO [Department of Economic Opportunity] continues to carefully monitor job posting and industry hiring trends.”
In a press release, DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said “transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.” Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in March 2021, 1.9% higher than 2.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $235.22.
Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 26.
“Even in the middle of a global pandemic, job growth and economic development in Georgia remained strong — including an unemployment rate below the national average,” Kemp said in a statement. “To build on our momentum, accelerate a full economic recovery, and get more Georgians back to work in good-paying jobs, our state will end its participation in the federal COVID-19 unemployment programs, effective June 26th.”
Gov. Brad Little said Idaho would no longer draw federal money to fund enhanced unemployment insurance, and the state will cancel its program on June 19.
It’s time to get back to work,” Little said in a Tuesday statement. “My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle — we do not want people on unemployment. We want people working.”
The state was among those that recently reimposed a job-seeking requirement for people receiving jobless aid.
Idaho’s unemployment rate stands at 3.2%, a higher level compared to 2.6% in February 2020. The average weekly unemployment benefit in the state is $355, per the Labor Department.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state is terminating all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.
“There are help wanted signs posted all over Indiana, and while our economy took a hit last year, it is roaring like an Indy 500 race car engine now,” Holcomb said in the news release. “I am hearing from multiple sector employers that they want and need to hire more Hoosiers to grow.”
The state is also among those now requiring people to actively seek work while on unemployment.
Indiana’s unemployment rate is 3.9%, higher than the 3.2% it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit is $254.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state would cancel federal jobless benefits on June 12.
“Federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs initially provided displaced Iowans with crucial assistance when the pandemic began,” Reynolds said in a statement. “But now that our businesses and schools have reopened, these payments are discouraging people from returning to work.”
The state’s unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, still slightly higher than the 2.9% it recorded in February 2020. Iowa’s average weekly jobless benefit is $430.
Louisiana is the first Democrat-led state to prematurely cut off its participation in $300 weekly benefits. Those benefits will end July 31.
Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law a bill that would increase the state’s regular weekly benefits by $28. One of the bill’s stipulations was that supplemental unemployment benefits had to end on July 31.
Local news outlet WWLTV reported that, prior to the bill’s passage, the governor had already said he planned on ending benefits in early August, when school begins.
Maryland will end its participation in all federal unemployment programs effective July 3.
Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement that the state has vaccinated 70% of its adults, hitting the goal set by President Joe Biden, and that Maryland’s “health and economic recovery continues to outpace the nation.”
“While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply,” Hogan said. “And we have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages.”
Mississippi is among the seven states that have not lifted hourly pay for workers since the last increase to the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.
Gov. Mike Parson announced on Tuesday that Missouri would be ending its participation in federal unemployment on June 12.
“While these benefits provided supplementary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19, they were intended to be temporary, and their continuation has instead worsened the workforce issues we are facing,” Parson said in a statement. “It’s time that we end these programs that have ultimately incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.”
Missouri raised its minimum wage to $10.30 on January 1, 2021.
Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the state was ending federal benefits on June 27.
“Incentives matter, and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good,” Gianforte said in a statement. “We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce.”
Taking its place will be a $1,200 return-to-work bonus, an amount equivalent to four weeks of receiving federal jobless aid. Workers will be eligible for the cash after a month on the job. The measure enjoys support among some congressional Republicans.
The average weekly benefit in the state is $468 without the federal supplement. The state’s unemployment rate has reached pre-pandemic levels, at 3.8% in April.
Nebraska will end its participation in all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.
According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the benefits are a “disincentive for some people” in returning to work. The curtailing of benefits come as part of the state’s initiative to reopen and “return to normalcy.”
Gov. Chris Sununu said on Thursday that he was planning on ending the additional $300 weekly benefit before it’s due to expire, NECN reports. However, the date that benefits will be discontinued in the state remains unclear.
The state will also begin work search requirements for those on UI beginning May 23.
The New Hampshire unemployment rate was 3.0% in March 2021, above the February 2020 rate of 2.6%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $277.26.
Gov. Doug Burgum said the state would pull out of federal unemployment benefit programs on June 19.
“Safe, effective vaccines have been available to every adult in North Dakota for months now, and we have an abundance of job openings with employers who are eager to hire,” Burgum said in a news release, noting the state had its highest number of online job postings since July 2015.
The state’s unemployment rate is 4.4%, still almost double its level of 2.3% in February 2020. North Dakota’s average weekly unemployment payment is $480.
Gov. Mike Dewine said the state will scrap the federal unemployment benefit programs on June 26.
“This assistance was always intended to be temporary,” DeWine said in a statement.
The state’s unemployment rate stands at 4.7%, the same level it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Ohio is $383.
Gov. Kevin Stitt is dropping all federal unemployment programs starting on June 26.
“That gives people six weeks to get off the sidelines and get back into the game,” he said in a news release.
Stitt also announced that the first 20,000 laid-off workers now receiving benefits that are rehired will get a $1,200 “incentive using funds from the American Rescue Plan.”
People are eligible if they receive some form of federal unemployment aid between May 2 through 15, and keep their new job for at least six weeks. Individuals must also have a 32-hour workweek.
The Oklahoma unemployment rate stands at 5.2%, higher than the 3.1% it had before the pandemic broke out in February last year. The average weekly benefit is $310.
Even before the jobs report hit, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said the state would stop its participation in federal unemployment effective June 30.
“This labor shortage is being created in large part by the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits,” McMaster wrote in a letter to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce.
McMaster spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about the expanded unemployment program, saying he believed it’s a “counterproductive policy.”
The average weekly benefit in the state stands at $228. South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 5.1%, still nearly double its pre-pandemic rate of 2.8% in February 2020.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, 76.7% of the unemployment insurance that South Carolina disbursed came from federal funds, according to the report from the Economic Policy Institute. The minimum wage in South Carolina was last raised in 2009, when the federal minimum wage as a whole was increased to $7.25.
Gov. Kristi Noem announced Wednesday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective the week of June 26. In a related statement, the state’s Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman noted that “help wanted signs line our streets.”
“South Dakota is, and has been, ‘Open for Business.’ Ending these programs is a necessary step towards recovery, growth, and getting people back to work,” Hultman added.
The South Dakota unemployment rate was 2.9% in March 2021, unchanged from 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $369.
Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that federal unemployment benefits would end in the state effective July 3.
“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee said in a statement. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”
The state’s unemployment rate in March 2021 was 5%, a 0.1% increase from the month before and 1% higher than the March 2020 rate. Tennessee’s average weekly unemployment payment is $219.45. Tennessee is one of seven states where the minimum wage remains at the federal level of $7.25.
Gov. Greg Abbott said he was scrapping all federal unemployment programs on June 26.
“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said in a statement.
Nearly 1.3 million people in the state will experience a sharp cut in their unemployment aid, per an estimate from Andrew Stettner at the liberal-leaning Century Foundation. It’s the largest state yet to eliminate the programs, with the eliminated aid coming to an estimated $8.8 billion.
The average weekly benefit in Texas is $405. The state’s current 6.9% unemployment rate is still nearly double what it used to be in February 2020.
Utah is withdrawing from federal unemployment aid programs effective June 26.
“This is the natural next step in getting the state and people’s lives back to normal,” Gov. Spencer Cox said in a statement. “The market should not be competing with the government for workers.”
The state has a 2.9% unemployment rate, slightly higher than the 2.5% pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Utah is $428.
West Virginia will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 19 at midnight.
“We need everyone back to work,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement. “Our small businesses and West Virginia’s economy depend on it.”