Virginia sets unemployment record for third straight week

Posted at 1:11 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 07:02:48-04

NORFOLK, Va. - For a third straight week, a record number of Virginians filed initial unemployment claims, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Last week, 149,758 people filed for claims, a nearly 38,000 person increase from the week before.

"It's completely unprecedented in my life," Sen. Tim Kaine told reporters on Thursday. "I'm 62 years old, and there's never been anything like this."

People trying to file for unemployment in Virginia and around the country continue to face challenges with the phone and online systems. Kaine says Congress expanded the types of employees who can file for the benefits, leading to an influx of calls and web traffic. He says VEC is staffing up. "These are huge challenges," he said.

Kaine will soon head back to Washington on April 20, when he hopes Congress will pass another stimulus bill soon after. He believes this fourth bill will have to provide more help to the healthcare industry.

Still, the uncertainty of it all is a major challenge. "I'll tell you what makes it even more troubling: If we knew what date by which it could be over, it would still be painful, but at least we would be able to plan," he said.

He says testing really needs to ramp up and believes it could've helped prevent the outbreak at Canterbury Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Henrico County, where now 35 people have died.

"I think what the Canterbury situation shows is that the nation really fell down when it came to testing because had there been more rigorous testing earlier we could've kept people away," he said.

Going forward, he believes the social distancing practices need to stay in place for now. "This economic challenge is driven by the public health emergency," he said. "There's no amount economic aid that's going to be enough if we don't get the public health part of this right."

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