During World War II, a major key to success relied on the activities of civilians during the war. Although they weren’t fighting in the war, they made sacrifices nonetheless.
Our ancestors gave rationed or gave up supplies like gasoline, butter and canned milk so they could be used to assist the war effort. They went without new items, like cars and home appliances, so that the materials become items for the military. People across the United States hosted scrap drives to collect materials like metal and rubber that were important to the war effort. Although civilians weren’t in the battlefield themselves, they understood the importance of supporting those who were.
Today we are being called to a similar challenge. We are fighting a different kind of battle against an invisible, yet still dangerous, enemy: COVID-19. We don’t know what the months ahead will bring, but action now can help slow the spread of the virus and result in fewer deaths. Past generations of Americans sacrificed so much for years. Sheltering in place for a few weeks is a small price to pay to keep our cities, states and nation safe.
One other way you can support your community during this time is by supporting your small businesses. Ordering curbside pick-up or delivery from a local restaurant during this time will help them continue to invest back in the community by providing jobs to your neighbors and loved ones.
Many stores and entertainment venues, such as movie theaters or bowling alleys, have closed their doors for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, this means these businesses are losing money and risk not breaking even.
One way to show your support for these businesses is to order a gift card that can be used at a later date. This will help keep more businesses afloat during these difficult months and will also give you and your family something to look forward to after this time has passed.
If you or a loved one has seen a reduction in your work hours or were laid off altogether as a result of the COVID-19 virus, you are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits through the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission. Governor Stitt has issued an executive order to waive the requirement that people wait a week after being laid off to file initial claims.
Normally, while receiving unemployment benefits, claimants are required to be actively seeking new employment. However, people filing because of a temporary furlough or a reduction in hours are not required to meet these job-search requirements.
Oklahomans in need of information about unemployment benefits can go to the OESC’s website, https://www.ok.gov/oesc/. It offers online claim filing as well as lots of information and answers to frequently asked questions. You will need to provide certain information, including your Social Security number and 18-month employment history.
People unable to file online can call (405) 525-1500 or (800) 555-1554, and those who are hearing-impaired can call (866) 284-6695. However, due to the number of inquiries, there are long waits on the phone, and OESC encourages claimants to file online.
President Trump has signed a stimulus bill passed by Congress to give federal aid during these few months. Many Americans will receive a $1,200 direct payment in addition to $500 for each dependent child. The bill also expands unemployment insurance from three to four months and provides temporary unemployment compensation of $600 per week, which is in addition to regular state and federal benefits.
Oklahoma has weathered tough storms before. We will weather this one together too.
Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, a Republican, represents District 65 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Caddo, Comanche, Cotton, Grady and Stephens Counties.