By MEAD GRUVER Associated Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Unemployment claims in Wyoming continue to surge as the coronavirus keeps businesses closed and people at home, resulting in long phone delays for out-of-work people seeking to file for compensation.
New claims for unemployment compensation increased 24% last week, topping 4,600, on top of a more than seven-fold increase the week before, according to Wyoming Department of Workforce Services figures released Thursday.
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People filing for unemployment have had to wait up to three hours to get through to the department on the phone, prompting an all-hands-on-deck response, agency spokesman Ty Stockton said.
“It’s definitely a heavy load. We’re pulling people in from other departments to help out in the unemployment area. We’ve added phone lines and are doing all sorts of things to try to reduce the wait time,” Stockton said.
The department instituted an alphabetical filing process to try to reduce the volume.
People seeking unemployment compensation should file on Mondays, Wednesday or before noon on Friday if their last names begin with the letters A through M; and on Tuesday, Thursday or after noon Friday if their last names begin with N through Z, the department announced Thursday.
Gov. Mark Gordon has ordered schools and businesses ranging from nail salons to bars and movie theaters closed through April 17 to limit spread of the virus. Other businesses including most stores remain open and Gordon has not issued a stay at home order like those in effect for Colorado, Idaho and Montana.
Wyoming as of Thursday was the only state without any deaths from the COVID-19 virus. The state had 150 cases confirmed in 16 of its 23 counties.
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: email@example.com
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.