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State will make it easier to get unemployment, emergency cash and SNAP benefits during coronavirus pandemic

In the effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, many businesses are shutting down and people are losing their jobs.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Lee promises that help is on the way for people whose livelihood is threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.

In his state budget, which should be presented this weekend for approval by the legislature, he's pledged millions of dollars of funds to help people who can't work or lose their jobs during this economic crisis.

First, they are working with the Department of Labor to make it easier to apply for unemployment benefits.

The state hopes to suspend some of the rules so that people will get their money faster. Right now, it can take up to three weeks to receive your first check. They are working to speed that up.

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They are also expanding who can qualify for unemployment. If people are quarantined by their doctor because of coronavirus, they will be eligible for unemployment until they can return to work.

That help wasn't previously available for people who just needed assistance for a few weeks. 

Go here to get more information and to apply for unemployment help.

Gov. Lee said they are also working to expand the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to help people who suffer a job loss because of the coronavirus.

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For thost that qualify, the state can provide up to $1000 for a family of five to help out.

You can get more information about TANF benefits here.

The state is also working with the federal government to ease restrictions to temporarily qualify for SNAP benefits.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides extra money for low-income individuals and households to buy nutritious food.

Gov. Lee hopes to be able to announce more about that in the coming days.

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He urges everyone who needs help to go online to apply instead of doing so in person.

The governor has also proposed $200 million in this year's budget to fund grants for Tennessee cities and counties. Those emergency funds can be used to help with local needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We know local governments know better than we do what is needed in local communities," Gov. Lee said.