Mississippi sees 8,000% increase in unemployment claims since outbreak

Updated: Apr. 9, 2020 at 10:05 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves held a daily press briefing to discuss COVID-19 and what’s being done to slow the spread in state.

Reeves is making it clear that Mississippi is trying to handle the COVID-19 crisis from both a public health and economic perspective.

257 new cases is the highest one day total added for Mississippi. Here’s what Governor Reeves said about the numbers.

“That is more driven by a fairly large dump of positive test from a private lab much more so than it is we saw a significant increase in the number of positive cases that occurred,” said Reeves.

The state now making racial breakdown data available. Fifty-percent of all cases and seventy-percent of all deaths have been African Americans. Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons says it’s highlighting an issue that some in the state have been pushing for for years now.

“It’s COVID-19 today. It might be something else in the future. So now is the time to create an environment in Mississippi that will improve healthcare access. That will improve healthcare quality and will improve public health.”

Beyond the public health crisis is the economic crisis tied to it.

“Since the coronavirus hit Mississippi, we have seen more than 8,000% increase in new claims of unemployment,” noted Reeves.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security is doing what it can to keep up.

“We’ve engaged with a company and we will be setting up an additional call center in the next coming days to handle that workload," said MDES Executive Director Jackie Turner. "We are hiring approximately 100 additional staff and 100 additional temporary workers.”

And Governor Reeves wants those at home waiting to get through to know this.

“We see you," said Reeves. "We hear you. We will help you. It won’t always be as quickly as we want to but we will not let you down.”

Reeves adds you will get your money. Benefits aren’t based on when you finally get through but rather when you lost your job.

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