Alabama unemployment claims skyrocket amid pandemic

MGN Online

Nearly 17,000 people filed unemployment claims over just two days — Sunday and Monday— according to preliminary numbers from Alabama Department of Labor spokeswoman Tara Hutchison.

Posted: Mar 25, 2020 5:02 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Thousands of Alabamians are filing for unemployment benefits, sometimes overwhelming the state application system, as the coronavirus pandemic causes workplaces to close temporarily or reduce operations.

Nearly 17,000 people filed unemployment claims over just two days — Sunday and Monday— according to preliminary numbers from Alabama Department of Labor spokeswoman Tara Hutchison.

Health officials have acknowledged the economic cost of mandatory closures but say they're crucial to slow the outbreak as caseloads grow exponentially, threatening to overwhelm hospitals. People can be contagious without showing symptoms and spend days infecting others before falling ill.

“I want to be very clear: This is a matter of life and death," Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson said Sunday in announcing the closures of nonessential businesses in that county.

Despite this, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey said she was following the lead of President Donald Trump and expressed reluctance Tuesday to join other governors in issuing a statewide order shutting down nonessential activities.

“I want to echo the President who today said we have to get back to work. We must do everything we can to keep businesses open and if they are closed, get them back up as soon as possible,” Ivey said.

Alabama's statewide orders include closing beaches and prohibiting on-site restaurant dining and non-work gatherings of more than 25 people where people can't stay 6 feet (2 meters) apart.

Birmingham has issued a “shelter in place” order directing people to stay inside unless going out for food, medicine, exercise or essential services. The city of Tuscaloosa said it would institute a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew beginning Friday.

Limited testing has shown that Alabama had at least 283 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, with 99 of those cases in Jefferson County, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Officials at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said UAB hospital was treating at least 90 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than half of them were on ventilators.

“We have experienced an exponential increase in the number of patients in the last few days," said Dr. Sarah Nafziger, co-chair of the hospital's emergency management committee. “This is a dangerous situation that our community needs to take seriously."

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

No deaths have been blamed on the illness in Alabama.

Most of the unemployment claims were listed as related to the COVID-19 outbreak, Hutchison said, and many of the new cases are believed to be from the hospitality industry. A total of 9,347 claims were filed the week that ended March 20, up from 1,434 claims the previous week that ended March 13. The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.

In Alabama, people either apply by phone line or through the online system. Hutchinson said they are aware that sometimes people have had trouble getting through on the telephone system.

“Patience and understanding are appreciated. Know we hear your concerns and are working to address them,” Hutchinson said. To help the process, the state is waiving charges against employers who file partial unemployment compensation claims on behalf of their employees.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96032

Reported Deaths: 2894
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7063159
DeSoto552159
Harrison382973
Jackson345670
Madison326586
Rankin325677
Lee268368
Jones246879
Forrest245571
Washington221972
Lafayette215439
Lauderdale2044125
Bolivar182366
Oktibbeha177350
Lamar167534
Neshoba1559104
Lowndes152658
Panola146328
Sunflower144546
Warren140250
Leflore139581
Pontotoc125916
Pike123050
Monroe122168
Scott117327
Copiah117133
Coahoma115028
Holmes109558
Marshall109217
Lincoln108353
Grenada107736
Yazoo105530
Simpson102544
Union99324
Tate97637
Leake95338
Adams93037
Wayne89421
Pearl River87353
Marion85735
Prentiss84417
Covington81922
Itawamba79421
Alcorn79111
Newton76723
George76513
Tallahatchie76321
Winston73719
Tishomingo67238
Chickasaw67024
Tippah66517
Attala65425
Walthall59825
Clay58918
Clarke58145
Hancock57721
Jasper56815
Noxubee54816
Smith53114
Calhoun51312
Tunica48313
Claiborne46216
Montgomery45920
Lawrence43112
Yalobusha42814
Perry41918
Humphreys37615
Quitman3725
Stone37012
Greene36617
Jefferson Davis33911
Webster33613
Amite32510
Carroll31512
Wilkinson30318
Kemper28815
Sharkey26513
Jefferson2449
Benton2252
Franklin1923
Choctaw1816
Issaquena1043
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19441349
Mobile13271291
Montgomery8778179
Madison775480
Tuscaloosa7496119
Shelby584951
Lee582961
Baldwin516550
Marshall390944
Calhoun346641
Etowah342047
Morgan325428
Houston278123
Elmore263247
DeKalb239120
Walker228483
St. Clair227837
Talladega212728
Limestone206120
Cullman188519
Dallas177426
Franklin175529
Russell17442
Autauga173825
Lauderdale168233
Colbert163626
Blount159415
Escambia158425
Jackson154611
Chilton153531
Dale135444
Covington134427
Coffee13078
Pike11879
Chambers115142
Tallapoosa114685
Clarke107717
Marion95729
Butler91339
Barbour8577
Winston73712
Marengo70820
Lowndes65327
Pickens65114
Bibb64210
Randolph63713
Hale62828
Lawrence60922
Geneva5995
Bullock59814
Cherokee59115
Monroe5818
Clay5707
Washington55613
Perry5407
Conecuh53111
Crenshaw53132
Wilcox53111
Henry4865
Macon48020
Fayette4438
Sumter43419
Lamar3632
Choctaw34612
Cleburne3396
Greene30315
Coosa1673
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