COVID-19 unemployment claims top 10,000 in RI in less than a week

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – In less than a week, Rhode Island has received more than 10,000 claims for unemployment benefits caused by COVID-19, according to new state data.

The R.I. Department of Labor and Training released new numbers on Tuesday morning showing the number of claims for Unemployment Insurance increased to 9,593 compared to just 10 last Tuesday. Temporary Disability Insurance claims, meanwhile, increased to 545 compared to zero during that same time period.

To put those numbers in perspective, only about 11,600 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits in Rhode Island during the entire month of January, when the coronavirus outbreak was still mostly confined to China.

And the numbers are only expected to grow, as Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo on Monday ordered no gatherings of 25 people or more, along with a shutdown of all dine-in food services at restaurants and bars. Some establishments that could still offer takeout are shutting down anyway.

The dramatic measures taken to fight the spread of the disease has been met with little pushback amid the public health crisis, but Raimondo says she’s not oblivious to the effect it’s having on Rhode Islanders ability to work.

During a press conference Monday, she described unemployment filings as “skyrocketing.”

The state’s food services, lodging, leisure and hospitality industries together employed about 114,000 people in January, according to the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, and already hundreds of Rhode Islanders have filed for unemployment benefits.

If you’re out of work in Rhode Island due to COVID-19 because of a shutdown or a quarantine, WPRI 12 has put together this primer on what you need to know about the programs available to help and how you can apply.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tim White and Ted Nesi contributed to this story.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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