Covid-19 Survivor Benefits Presentations
Jefferson County Gives 9 Widows Thousands of Dollars for COVID-19 Relief
by Desmond Nugent, KATV News
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Pine Bluff (KATV) - As the pandemic looms around the nation, many Arkansans continue to experience the impact of COVID-19 from businesses shutting down to families losing loved ones. Earlier this week, Jefferson County awarded nine people who have lost loved ones to the virus monetary money.
County judge Gerald Robinson said they received $12.4 million from the U.S. Treasury. That money came from a bill that was passed to help boost the economy in the county and those impacted by the pandemic. He said they've received half of those funds and they expect the other half by the end of this year or early next year. Robinson said they set aside $300,000 dollars for a survivor's benefit.
He said during their Quorum Court meeting on Monday, they disbursed $106,000 to those recipients.
"That was the most heart-wrenching testimonials I had ever encountered," Robinson said.
Robinson said they put together an application with strict criteria for those who are eligible. He said out of 15 applicants nine received $1,500 to $25,000 for those benefits.
"When I read those eligible uses, I came upon the survivor's benefits, immediately it came to mind for me to use the money to help families who have lost their loved one," Robinson said.
Nancy Mitcherson was one of those recipients. She lost her husband Aubrey in January of this year. Nancy said they were married nearly 33 years and she was there when her husband took his last breath.
"When you have your spouse and then you go from two incomes to one, I mean it takes a toll on the family," she said. " I was just very grateful for the money."
Jo Linda Smith said her husband Cortez Smith, Jr. fought the virus for a month in the hospital before he died on Valentine's Day this year. Jo Linda described their nearly 51 years of marriage as a beautiful experience. She said the relief the county provided is a reminder that her husband's life mattered to the community.
"What they're saying is, is that we can't remove the pain, but we just want you to know that we care. It was kind of a time to celebrate the ones that we lost," she said.
Both widows told KATV their husbands did not have the opportunity to get vaccinated, but they are encouraging others to do so if they can.
Robinson said they have $194,000 left to allocate. He said if you would like to know how to apply for those funds, call the Jefferson County Courthouse at 870-541-5306.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, 221 people in Jefferson County have died from the virus.