LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Claims for unemployment benefits continued to skyrocket in Michigan last week during the coronavirus pandemic, when 311,000 people filed initial applications — more than double from the previous week.
The number of applications shattered the previous high of 128,000, which was set the prior week. The weekly record for new claims had been 77,000 in January 2009, during the Great Recession, which hit the state especially hard.
The unemployment system has been deluged. The website went down Tuesday before being restored.
The state Unemployment Insurance Agency has implemented a schedule for people to apply based on their last name. It is urging patience, recommending that users apply online late at night or early in the morning. The state also is scrambling to expand the capacity of its online system.
“The system’s overwhelmed to be sure,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said earlier this week. “While it is cumbersome, we’re asking for people to be patient. We are working incredibly hard to make sure that we’re able to meet the need.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.