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DeSantis announces capacity increases for unemployment

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Florida Governor DeSantis announced in a press conference today that the unemployment system has added 72 new servers and can now support 160,000 simultaneous connections. They will continue to add servers in case demand continues to escalate.

250 additional customer service representatives were trained over the weekend to work in the call center, and 500 more people are being trained today. Many of these employees have been loaned from the Department of Revenue, where they already work with Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) databases in collecting child support, etc.

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Over 2000 existing state government employees have been identified as available to transfer to working in the unemployment system. They may do tasks such as taking calls or entering data.

CareerSource Florida will be providing paper applications very soon, and paper applications can be downloaded here. FedEx has agreed to print applications, make them available at their offices, and overnight them to Tallahassee daily (this hasn’t started up yet).

DEO says they will be able to process 80,000 claims this week. DeSantis said, “We’re in an unprecedented situation… just simply doing business as was being done in January 2020 is not going to be good enough.”

Work search requirements for unemployment compensation have been waived. Work requirements for SNAP and TANF have also been waived. The state has submitted a waiver request to the federal government to increase SNAP to the maximum allowed amount.

Over 120,000 Floridians have been tested for COVID-19. Some hospitals already have the Abbott Labs rapid test. The state is working to spread those out so all hospital systems have them. DeSantis said this can be particularly valuable for health care workers; if they’ve been exposed, they can be tested instead of having to self-isolate for the full 14 days.

DeSantis said that antibody testing is necessary to determine whether a significant portion of the population has already had the virus; that information will be a main determinant of future policy. He said they’ve put in a “big order” for antibody tests, but he doesn’t know when it will arrive.

Hospital availability is about 44% throughout the state.

DeSantis thanked the people of Florida for all they’re doing. “Just keep doing that… the more people are doing that, the better off we’ll be on the other side of this.”