Nearly 40,000 Unemployment Claims on Hold Due to Potential Fraud

Aug 4, 2020

Aug. 4, 2020 2:20 p.m. — During today's daily COVID-19 update, Gov. Hutchinson reported the state has 45,381 positive cases, an increase of 784 from yesterday. Of those, 10 are in correctional facilities. Hospitalizations increased by 13 for a total of 526, a new record. Arkansas has 490 deaths related to the coronavirus, an increase of 15. In the last 24 hours, 5,840 tests were conducted. The public health lab completed 2,212 tests, the most completed by the lab in a single day. The increase is due to new, high-throughput machines that have come online. Officials plan to bring activate more of those machines in the future.

Acting Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero reported the state has 6,891 active cases. Of those, 88 are in nursing homes, 393 are in correctional facilities and 6,410 are in the community. Another 760 Arkansans have recovered, bringing that total to 38,000. There are 101 patients on ventilators, 7 less than yesterday. The top five counties with the highest number of new cases are Pulaski County with 149, Sebastian County with 56, Mississippi County with 55, Washington County with 45 and Benton County with 35.  

Commerce Sec. Mike Preston said several cabinet secretaries and the governor have had fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims filed in their name. Because of an uptick in fraud, Sec. Preston said they've had to flag more claims than they normally would. About 27,000 PUA claims and 10,000 Unemployment Insurance claims are on hold for potential fraud. Preston said they are partnering with other state entities to work through the backlog. 

He said some good news is continued claims are down to about 90,000, which is the lowest point since claims peaked around 122,000 in May. Sec. Preston said his department is still receiving 10,000 to 15,000 initial claims each week, but part of that is likely due to fraudulent claims. Arkansans can report fraud by sending an email to adws.internalaudit@arkansas.gov. 

You can watch the entire daily briefing here