Gov. Gavin Newsom explains how EDD's 2-week reset will change California unemployment system

During a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic and the wildfires burning in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom took some time to address the ongoing economic fallout that has left millions of Californians unemployed -- and many of them frustrated with the state's EDD, or Employment Development Department.

The department was overwhelmed by the volume of unemployment claims that have been filed over the past six months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. EDD announced it is taking a two-week reset period in which it will not accept new claims in order to clear a massive backlog and also work to prevent fraud.

An EDD strike team found 600,000 workers still have not received benefits they applied for at least three weeks ago.

MORE: Unemployment claims paused for 2 weeks as report reveals 600K awaiting benefits in EDD backlog

Newsom called the backlog "unacceptable" Monday and said the two-week reset aims to make things right.

"This system is a 30-year-old technological system," said Newsom. "They need to be upgraded and frankly they need to be strewn into the waste bin of history. Nevertheless, we've inherited a bit of that waste bin and we've been trying to piece it together."

MAP: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules

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The first improvement being implemented is a new automatic ID verification system. Speeding up ID verification will help speed up claims processing and avoid fraud, Newsom said.

During the pause on new claims, EDD is also mobilizing staff to process the oldest and most complex claims, trying to make a significant dent in clearing the case backlog. New staff will also focus on proactively reaching out to claimants, instead of being so "reactive," the governor said.

The system is also being modernized in other ways, including making it easier to view and move forward a claim on mobile devices.

"We want to meet people where they're at," Newsom said.

The pause on new claims doesn't mean it'll take longer for people to get their benefits. It's actually the opposite, said EDD strike force leader Yolanda Richardson.

"Forty percent of UI claimants were going into a manual process, and by embracing this reset we are giving them a 90% chance going forward of having a much faster experience," said Richardson. "This is about getting a check in their hand much faster."

On the coronavirus front, the state is expected to make more changes to the state's four-tier reopening plan on Tuesday. Newsom said more counties are expected to be moved from the "purple" category (the worst of the four) into the lower "red" tier. Other counties are expected to move into the even lower "orange tier."

WATCH: Gov. Newsom discusses CA's COVID-19 cases, response efforts
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Gov. Gavin Newsom provided an update on California's COVID-19 cases as the state prepares for more changes to the four-tier reopening plan.



When it comes to wildfires, things are also slowly but surely starting to look up.

The major fires in the Bay Area, the LNU, CZU and SCU Lighting Complex fires, are all between 98% and 99% contained.

The Creek Fire burning near Fresno is upwards of 278,000 acres and 27% contained.

The Bobcat Fire in Los Angeles County is larger than 100,000 acres and 15% contained, which isn't yet substantial but still marks significant progress over last week.


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