Democrats in Florida want major improvements to state’s unemployment compensation

Kathy Castor at USF
Kathy Castor at USF. Seán Kinane/WMNF News (2015).

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Since mid-March, around a million Floridians have filed unemployment compensation claims. But less than one-third of those coronavirus-related claims have been processed and only about one-fifth of people with valid claims have received any payments.

In addition, the state’s unemployment compensation claims website was down over the weekend for upgrades.

During a press conference in Orlando Sunday, Governor Ron Desantis said the problems with unemployment claims were inevitable. Despite the $77 million dollar cost of the CONNECT system, DeSantis said it was not designed for hundreds of thousands of claims at a time. The governor says several improvements are being made to the unemployment system. Some Democratic state legislators are calling for a special session to address problems with unemployment in Florida.

On Monday morning several Democratic members of Congress from Florida and one State Senator held a video conference to urge Governor DeSantis to use his executive powers to get financial help to unemployed Floridians. They also want DeSantis “to swiftly expand state unemployment insurance benefits.”

On WMNF’s MidPoint Monday we heard from Tampa-area Democratic Congress member Kathy Castor, St. Petersburg-area Democratic Congress member Charlie Crist and South Florida Democratic Congress member Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Listen to the show here.

Filing an unemployment claim in Florida is very difficult, as we explored a few weeks ago on MidPoint. On Monday we heard from listeners about their experiences with the state’s unemployment system and what they think the governor should do.

According to the Florida Department of Health website, updated Monday morning, there are now more than 32,100 positive coronavirus cases in the state. 1,088 people have died in Florida.

More than 5,000 people are hospitalized; that’s a number that continues to grow. There are almost certainly more cases because not everyone is tested. Only 356,000 out of Florida’s 21 million people have been tested – about 90% of the tests have been negative.

On Monday, the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County announced a fourth COVID-19 death in Pasco. A 64-year-old man diagnosed with COVID-19 passed away on Saturday.


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