Program can bring financial relief to those waiting for coronavirus test results

A health care worker administers a COVID-19 test at a site sponsored by Community Heath of...
A health care worker administers a COVID-19 test at a site sponsored by Community Heath of South Florida at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Clinica Campesina Health Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, Monday, July 6, 2020, in Homestead, Fla.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Updated: Jul. 8, 2020 at 10:28 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is reporting that nearly 500,000 people have been tested for the coronavirus in South Carolina.

DHEC reports that most results should come in 24-48 hours, but the agency warns that results may be delayed as the number of tests continues to increase.

The longer wait times may mean a delay in getting back to work.

If you’re worried about losing money while waiting for the diagnosis, there are two avenues to explore: unemployment insurance and The Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

“I would recommend anyone that thinks that they have lost wages, lost employment, they’ve been separated, there’s no harm in applying for benefits,” said Jamie Suber, Chief of Staf for the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.

Suber and his team have handled more than 600,000 unemployment claims in the past three months.

His advice is to go ahead and apply if your income has been impacted by the virus in any way, even if you’re in isolation while waiting for test results.

Suber said if someone is still employed and hasn’t been officially severed by a furlough for example, they likely won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits until they’ve tested positive.

“In regards to being laid off, furloughed, quarantine, self-quarantine, those speak to opportunities within the unemployment insurance program,” said Suber.

For people who are still employed, but haven’t been getting paid while waiting days or weeks for coronavirus test results, there may still be another option: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

“They could probably fall under two particular qualifying reasons,” said Goldfinch-Winslow Attorney Jessica Stokes.

Stokes encourages anyone isolating while waiting for results to ask their employer about the FFCRA.

If the employee has symptoms or lives with someone who has tested positive, they could qualify for up to two weeks of emergency sick leave under the act.

“There is a lot involved,” said Stokes. “It’s never always black and white, but that’s kind of the law in a nutshell.”

Those are a couple of options for people who are waiting longer than they expected for test results.

If you have the ability to telework while you’re waiting, neither of those options apply.

Click here for more information about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

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