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Eligible families encouraged to apply for pandemic food assistance ahead of Monday deadline

Up to $34 million available if estimated 45,000 additional families apply, official says

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Dakota Silva administers a COVID-19 test to Bernard Montes as University of Utah Health’s Wellness Bus visits the Sorenson Multicultural Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020.

Dakota Silva administers a COVID-19 test to Bernard Montes as University of Utah Health’s Wellness Bus visits the Sorenson Multicultural Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020.

Yukai Peng, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — As many Utah families continue to grapple with financial troubles brought on by the pandemic, up to $34 million in direct assistance remains available for eligible households ahead of Monday’s deadline, officials said.

The Pandemic EBT assistance program offers a one-time benefit to parents of $308 per child funded by the federal government. Those with children who participated in the free and reduced-cost meal program at their local schools as of the end of the 2019-2020 school year are eligible.

Those interested can apply at jobs.utah.gov/PEBT. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. on Monday.

As of Friday, about 32,000 of the estimated 77,000 eligible households had applied, according to Nate McDonald, assistant deputy director for the Department of Workforce Services.

“We have already approved and issued payment to 13,215 households in the amount of $8.64 million,” McDonald said. That amount doesn’t include those receiving SNAP benefits who received the Pandemic EBT funding automatically, he said.

“If these 45,000 additional households apply, we could see an estimated $34 million come to Utah to families needing food assistance,” he said.

“While modest, these benefits will be able to fill budget gaps for tens of thousands of families,” said Alex Cragun, food security advocate for Utahns Against Hunger, in a statement.

Of the money that’s already been distributed, “not only does that help families buy food but has a real impact on the economy,” Cragun said.

Resources to help families understand the Pandemic EBT program are available at pebtutah.org

New COVID-19 cases

Utah health officials reported another 391 cases of the novel coronavirus and four more deaths on Friday.

The new cases were confirmed out of just under 5,000 people tested, a 7.8% positive rate, according to the Utah Department of Health. They bring the state’s total cases since the pandemic hit to 50,948 of 647,745 people tested, an overall positive rate of about 7.9%.

The rolling seven-day average for new confirmed cases is 354 per day, and the average positive test rate is 8.8%. Currently, 118 patients in Utah are hospitalized with COVID-19, two fewer than on Thursday. Just over 3,000 have required hospital care for the disease in the state since the pandemic began.

The four deaths reported Friday bring the state’s toll to 407. They were: two Box Elder County residents, a man between ages 65-84 and a woman between 45-64, both of whom were hospitalized when they died; a Wasatch County woman between 65-84, who was a long-term care resident; and a Salt Lake County man between 45-64, who was also hospitalized when he died.

Just under 43,000 of Utah’s cases are considered recovered after surviving the three-week point since their diagnoses, meaning just under 8,000 cases are still active.

The latest breakdown of Utah cases, hospitalizations and deaths by health district:

  • Salt Lake County, 23,531; 1,536 hospitalized; 230 deaths.
  • Utah County, 10,626; 494 hospitalized; 46 deaths.
  • Davis County, 3,792; 213 hospitalized; 23 deaths.
  • Southwest Utah, 3,541; 207 hospitalized; 27 deaths.
  • Weber-Morgan, 3,273; 211 hospitalized; 29 deaths.
  • Bear River (Box Elder, Cache, Rich), 2,536; 129 hospitalized; 11 deaths.
  • Summit County, 837; 53 hospitalized; 1 death.
  • San Juan County, 663; 88 hospitalized; 28 deaths.
  • Tooele County, 676; 33 hospitalized; 0 deaths.
  • Wasatch County, 627; 25 hospitalized; 7 deaths.
  • Central Utah, 503; 29 hospitalized; 3 deaths.
  • TriCounty (Uinta Basin), 204; 17 hospitalized; 1 death.
  • Southeast Utah, 139; 6 hospitalized; 1 death.