Coronavirus in Tennessee: Labor department paying out claims amidst record filings and computer problems


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the weekly number of Tennesseans filing for unemployment hit another record today, the state Department of Labor says it’s been paying out claims.

Labor department spokesperson Chris Cannon told News 2 in a statement that the state, for now, is “on track to pay over 100,000 claimants over 30 million dollars.”

He added that in a typical week before “stay-at-home” orders from local governments closed business deemed “non-essential,” the state would average about 15,000 claims weekly paying around 4 million dollars.”

Top state officials have also urged patience as the labor department has faced computer issues processing the record claims.

While there are empty streets of entertainment and retail districts across Tennessee, there is some good news for some of those waiting for business help.

“There’s money going out, there is more to be done,” said Greg Gonzales, who is commissioner of the state financial institutions agency.

Those words were about forgivable federal loans for businesses shut down by COVID-19—forgivable if 75 percent of the Small Business Administration loan is used to keep or rehire workers.

A Nashville songwriter put it into perspective he was out walking around the nearly deserted streets of the city’s usually vibrant 12 South neighborhood.

“There are people who live paycheck-to-paycheck out there,” said Jamie Houston, “It’s going to be brutal. It already is.”

A few in the hard-hit restaurant business are still working for now.

“I assume its going to keep getting whittled down until places like us are the only ones left open,” said restaurant worker Carson Boyd.

He hopes he won’t have to be a number like so many of his friends in the restaurant business who are among the nearly 250,000 Tennesseans filing for unemployment in the last three weeks.

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