The state is sending a one-time payment of $600 to about 40,000 Mainers unemployed or underemployed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Maine Department of Labor said Tuesday.

The payments were made with funds allocated from Maine’s share of federal money provided to states for coronavirus relief this spring. The payments are separate from the $600 checks that are expected to be distributed as early as next week to most Americans as part of a new pandemic relief bill approved by Congress Monday.

The state labor department created the Pandemic Relief Program to help those who are facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.

The money was approved before Congress reached a $900 billion compromise relief bill this weekend. The bill extends federal unemployment programs and adds a $300-per-week payment for unemployed Americans, in addition to the $600 payment for most adults earning less than $75,000 a year. The bill passed the House and Senate on Monday.

“While this payment is a start, we are also pleased by the passage of bipartisan COVID relief legislation to ensure Maine people can provide for the basic necessities for themselves and their families,” Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said in a statement.

The federal relief bill still needs to be signed into law by President Trump.

Tens of thousands of Mainers collect unemployment through two federal unemployment programs that will extend into 2021 under the relief bill. The programs would otherwise expire Saturday.

“The (labor) department will work to implement any federal changes to unemployment programs as quickly as possible after they are passed into law,” Fortman said.

The labor department said it distributed the $600 payments late Monday. Claimants did not have to apply for the payment, and they will receive the money depending on their financial institutions’ deposit schedules, the department said.

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