Rise in COVID-19 cases possibly connected to decrease in unemployment benefits

Updated: Oct. 26, 2020 at 1:35 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Cases of coronavirus are surging across the country.

Quarantine fatigue and kids heading back to school may be contributing to an increase in cases, but a deep dive into data on the Arizona Department of Economic Security shows a possible correlation between unemployment benefits going down and an increase in COVID-19 cases.

An expert on the economy, who did not want to be identified because of his position, broke down the data for CBS 5 Investigates.

In early June, people filing for unemployment received a financial boost.

One top of the $240 in weekly unemployment benefits paid by the state, the federal government tripled its weekly pandemic assistance of $800 provided under the Cares Act. For the week of June 6, claimants were paid $2,117.

Roughly two weeks after those payments, which allowed more people to stay home, the number of positive COVID cases in Arizona flattened and began to go down.

Cases continued to drop through the week of September 9 when assistance checks averaged $863.

The change began the week of Sept. 19 when assistance checks dropped to $345 .

For the first time since June, COVID cases started to surge again.

When looking at the data, the expert believes it’s reasonable to conclude financial assistance allowed people to stay home, which helped slow the spread and bring down the number of positive cases.

When the federal pandemic assistance went away, people were forced to go back out into the workforce, unable to provide for themselves and their families on Arizona’s $240 dollars a week in unemployment benefits.