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As GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom, left, watches, and Dr. Daniel Burch does sign interpretation, center, Gov. John Bel Edwards answers questions while holding a media briefing about the state's activity related to Hurricanes Marco and Laura, in addition to hosting a Unified Command Group meeting afterwards. Both storms are forecast to impact Louisiana this week within a few days of each other Monday August 24, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

Louisiana will start sending out boosted $300 unemployment checks Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday, after an historic number of laid-off workers waited weeks for the federal government to replace $600 weekly benefits that expired this month. 

Edwards' administration said about 400,000 people will get checks Wednesday totaling $900 each, because the weekly benefit is retroactive to August 1. 

Boosted unemployment checks could start 'early' next week after state receives funds

About 67,000 people do not qualify because they receive less than $100 in state benefits each week. Another 20,000 people don't qualify but may be eligible if they certify their unemployment is due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We believe the payments will start this week on Wednesday the first checks will go out," Edwards said. "That turnaround time considering the obstacles given the workforce commission is actually pretty remarkable." 

$300 unemployment checks could start flowing next week, but these 87,000 people may not qualify

Edwards said if people have been certifying their unemployment with the Louisiana Workforce Commission each week to receive state benefits, they don't need to do anything to receive the funds. 

Louisiana has been working through issues with the Trump administration's boosted unemployment benefits of $300 a week for certain workers, which is funded through a pot of funds typically used to respond to disasters like hurricanes. 

The governor confirmed last week the state received the first $375 million in FEMA funds for the unemployment benefits. Since then, the Louisiana Workforce Commission has worked to update its computer systems to make the payments. The agency was plagued with problems this spring when an historic number of people flooded the unemployment system and the federal government gave states an extra $600 a week per worker. Workers at the time described waiting weeks or longer for their benefits, and being unable to reach workers at the department.

Congress has failed to reach a deal to replace the expired $600 weekly benefit that kept millions of Americans afloat after the pandemic and government closures eradicated their jobs. 

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Email Sam Karlin at skarlin@theadvocate.com