Unemployed service workers look for solutions amid coronavirus outbreak

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind.(WTWO/WAWV)– After Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered all restaurants to close to dine-in customers, many service workers were faced with the challenge of figuring out when and how they would receive their next paycheck.

Shonna Frye, a server at a restaurant in Terre Haute, said after being out of work for two weeks, funds are starting to become minimal.

“I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do it,” she said.

She said had she not received her tax refund before being laid off, she would have been in an extremely rough situation.

“The end of February, I was able to catch up on all my bills–my rent and my utilities. So, nothing is in the rears or anything like that. So we’re good there,” Frye said.

Like many others, Frye said she’s filed for unemployment benefits, and she is now being offered emergency assistance from her job; however, she’s beginning to worry about the long term effects of being laid off.

“I don’t want to be playing the catch-up game,” she said. “Literally every amount of money that I get when I get this emergency pay and if I get unemployment is all going to have to go for bills.”

The number of unemployment applicants has skyrocketed since the restrictions went into effect last week, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Josh Richardson, Chief of Staff for the agency, said they expect the numbers to continue to rise.

“The governor announced last week that 22,500 had filed as of Wednesday,” Richardson noted. “And that number continues to climb throughout the week. It’s going to be more than that week after week.”

Depending on their status of employment, those who file for unemployment are able to receive benefits on week-by-week basis; those who are eligible can be awarded a maximum amount of $390 per week.

Richardson said although the surge was more than they expected, the department will continue to support as many people as they can.

“The most important thing for anyone here is that this situation is going to change. I am confident that we are going to continue to see action trying to provide more relief,” he explained.

He said the unemployment agency will continue to update the public as the coronavirus pandemic develops.

“We will continue to update as we get there and people begin to develop new questions about what does this congressional act mean for me as I’m unemployed. We’ll be providing information there to help.”

The Department of Workforce Development will be closing all of it’s offices across the state, starting Tuesday.

All applicants can file for unemployment benefits online at www.unemployment.in.gov.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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