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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: 37542

Reported Deaths: 1272
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds304154
DeSoto200920
Madison150839
Jones123149
Harrison118316
Rankin113719
Neshoba104577
Forrest104343
Lauderdale97281
Scott83115
Jackson80419
Washington75313
Copiah67516
Leake63520
Lee63022
Grenada6259
Oktibbeha62328
Warren60021
Holmes59841
Lamar5847
Wayne56819
Yazoo5667
Lowndes54917
Leflore53956
Lincoln53835
Pike51120
Lafayette5094
Sunflower5058
Panola4616
Monroe46036
Simpson4533
Covington4505
Bolivar41618
Tate39513
Attala38624
Newton37710
Adams36720
Pontotoc3636
Marion34912
Claiborne31511
Pearl River30832
Chickasaw30219
Winston30211
Marshall2973
Jasper2826
Noxubee2799
Walthall2748
Clay26211
Smith25612
Union25612
Coahoma2356
Clarke22825
Lawrence2162
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1974
Montgomery1863
Kemper18414
Carroll18311
Humphreys17410
Calhoun1705
Hancock15213
Itawamba1478
Tippah14711
Jefferson1373
Webster13511
Prentiss1274
Tunica1263
George1253
Jefferson Davis1254
Greene11610
Alcorn1112
Amite1113
Tishomingo1091
Quitman1011
Wilkinson1019
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin572
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 56441

Reported Deaths: 1136
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7012170
Mobile5061140
Montgomery4599112
Tuscaloosa274353
Madison25359
Marshall205012
Shelby176425
Lee164737
Morgan13975
Baldwin134111
Walker111332
Elmore107622
Etowah106914
Dallas10189
DeKalb10017
Franklin95016
Unassigned77728
Autauga71515
Russell7130
Chambers68530
Cullman6686
Limestone6653
Butler65529
Houston6417
Tallapoosa63069
Lauderdale6006
St. Clair5983
Calhoun5545
Colbert5286
Escambia5128
Lowndes49222
Pike4805
Jackson4422
Coffee4364
Covington43512
Talladega4177
Dale4061
Barbour4022
Bullock37810
Hale36323
Marengo36111
Chilton3452
Blount3311
Clarke3236
Wilcox3158
Marion30914
Winston3095
Sumter29713
Pickens2786
Randolph2759
Monroe2683
Perry2552
Conecuh2388
Bibb2271
Macon2229
Choctaw22012
Greene2009
Henry1573
Washington1529
Lawrence1460
Crenshaw1343
Cherokee1317
Geneva1010
Fayette901
Clay892
Lamar891
Coosa671
Cleburne481
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