Virginia unemployment claims spike due to COVID-19: 'We want everyone to apply'

Posted at 12:19 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 13:29:50-04

RICHMOND, Va. – State officials are urging those who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to file an unemployment claim, even if you've previously been rejected.

“We know that this situation is causing businesses to close and people to lose their jobs and their income,” said Governor Ralph Northam Friday. “We are working to help Virginia workers and businesses that are affected.”

Dr. Megan Healy with the Virginia Chief Workforce Development office said unemployment claims spiked Thursday with more than 16,000, more than double the total from Monday through Wednesday (14,000).

Healy says the Virginia Employment Commission, which runs the program, has increased their server capacity to deal with online claims applications and added more call centers to answer calls from people who want to file unemployment.

Earlier this week, Northam waived the one week waiting period and work search requirement to file for unemployment benefits.

“So, if somebody applies for unemployment insurance, after they fill out that process, and they have direct deposit, hopefully they can start getting money within the next week,” said Healy.

Healy also urged those us have applied for unemployment to keep trying, as requirements are changing every day.

“If you think at all that you can get unemployment, we want everyone to apply,” said Healy. “The rules change daily, maybe hourly, of who can get unemployment insurance. So, if you are denied, we are going to keep that data and so if the rules change from the department of labor, we can go back and start issuing those checks.”

Unemployment applications can be submitted online and over the phone, but officials encourage anyone who can to apply online to reduce backlog time.

For more information, or to apply, click here.