Coronavirus: Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson vows to help struggling families

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- While fears over the spread of the Coronavirus continue to plague the nation's economy, California is processing an unprecedented number of unemployment claims.

According to Governor Gavin Newsom, more than 1 million unemployment insurance claims were filed in less than two weeks.

"They don't have their website fully set up to address the COVID-19 situation," says Jason Guy of Madera.

EDD recommends filing for unemployment online, but many say the website is clunky and unreliable because of the high volume of traffic.

Guy was a cook at IHOP and has worked in the foodservice industry for the past two decades, but suddenly found himself out of a job amid the health crisis.

He says he applied for unemployment benefits, only to have his claim denied.

"It has the option on there if you're still looking for work, and I said no," Guy said. "Under the reasons why I put temporary COVID-19 separation and yesterday when I logged in, it said I was disqualified."

Others like Tannisse Tuttrup of Fresno did qualify for unemployment benefits, but she says it's a fraction of the pay she received while substitute teaching for Clovis Unified.

"It was disappointing a little bit finding out that I wasn't making as much, but it was also thankful that I was making a little bit," Tuttrup said.

Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson wants to help families affected by the pandemic and is calling for the state to streamline the process.

"What we've discovered is the technology is so outdated that it is crashing, and we're pressing the Governor's office and the EDD to get that technology up and running," Patterson said. "There is no need for this type of delay and heartache for people."

For those individuals who have run into issues on the website or have been denied benefits, Patterson recommends contacting your local district office.

"If you're running into difficulty with these processes, we have experts here that can help you step through the application process and we have direct connections to individuals in these divisions and departments who can make a discretionary decision to say yes," Patterson said.

EDD says once you've completed the application, you should get that first payment within three weeks.

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