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COVID-19 jobless claims are now over 40 million. Many are still waiting for unemployment benefits.
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Weekly jobless claims shot into the multimillions in March with pandemic lockdowns. The latest numbers show that last week, there were 2.1 million more workers seeking aid. That means total layoffs since the coronavirus struck are now at nearly 41 million.
Since the crisis began, at least 30 million Americans have been approved to receive state or federal unemployment benefits. But many more who are out of work due to COVID-19 are still trying to get on the rolls.
Prep cook Nikolas Krevanko was laid off from his full-time job at a restaurant in Portland, Oregon, in mid-March.
“Filed unemployment, they got back to me at one point with a letter— ‘We found an issue, we’ll contact you later’ — but I haven’t gotten a single cent yet,” Krevanko said.
He went about eight weeks without pay and barely made his rent. He just started a new job at a food cart that does take out.
He expected to get state unemployment benefits while he was out of work, plus $600 a week in federal pandemic pay.
That program also expands eligibility to people who aren’t usually covered, including gig workers and solo business owners, like Brooke Wetzel, a florist in Los Angeles. She applied, was denied, then had to apply again.
“So I stopped working March 17, and the money didn’t come through until May 8,” Wetzel said.
Advocates for the unemployed estimate millions who’ve applied for jobless benefits are still waiting to get their money.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?
Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.
How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?
Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.
How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?
As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.
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