JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
State officials said the number of unemployment claims filed last week is equal to 30 percent of the total filed throughout 2019.
Unemployment claims have shot up as workers are laid off because of businesses that have closed or seen a slowing in sales thanks to COVID-19. Gov. Mike Parson and Anna Hui, director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, made the announced at Parson's daily COVID-19 news conference.
Hui said her department has taken several measures to speed the unemployment claim process and handle the increased workload. Those measures including waiving a requirement that those seeking unemployment must be pursuing work and a forgoing a rule mandating a one-week waiting period to begin receiving benefits.
The state reported 3,976 claims for unemployment during the week ending March 14, an increase of about 1,000 claims from the week prior.
The waivers apply to claims from people left jobless because of COVID-19. She said staff would be ready to take on claims made online, where 95 percent of claims are filed. You can file claims online here.
"As soon as you are unemployed, please do file your claim," Hui said. "The sooner you get that claim in, the sooner we have an opportunity to adjudicate it and determine if you are eligible."
Hui said the department is also not charging employers' insurance for COVID-19-related claims.
Parson said the food supply is strong and sought to rally food and farm sector workers with words of encouragement.
"If you are sick, stay at home," Parson said. "However, if you are able to work, we need you at your farm, we need you on your truck, we need you at your grocery store.”
Sandy Karsten, director of the Department of Public Safety, said Parson has shifted another $11 million from department budgets to buy personnel protective equipment for health care workers and first responders. The state has already purchased 4.5 million N95 masks, and the new money is on top of more than $18 million already dedicated to fighting COVID-19.
The state health department announced Wednesday there are at least 356 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Missouri. Health officials reported almost 100 more cases since Tuesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Boone County had 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases. At least two more cases were confirmed since Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Parson sent a disaster declaration to President Trump. Missouri's Congressional Delegation urged the president to sign the order.