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Crowds of Florida residents forced to gather to get paper unemployment applications after online system failure


Impossible to social-distance

Image source: ABC News video screenshot

Large crowds of Florida residents were forced to violate social distancing practices in order to get paper unemployment applications on Tuesday because the website wasn't working properly, ABC News reported.

What's going on? Unemployment claims have hit previously unheard-of numbers over the past few weeks, and labor departments are overwhelmed — as are their websites.

So, when recently unemployed people needed to file their claims immediately to gain access to benefits in a timely manner, they were forced to discard social distancing and stay-at-home recommendations to wait in line for paper applications.

Video shows crowds of people standing close together, some wearing masks and others with uncovered faces — exactly the type of gathering which, in some places, could get you a ticket or arrested.

How is the problem being addressed? Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has increased the staff at the unemployment office and said the website's capacity has been upgraded to be able to handle more traffic. From WESH-TV:

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that the state's unemployment website is now up to speed, but users say the site is still not working as it should.

DeSantis said Monday that the state's heavily criticized unemployment system should now be able to handle the crush of applicants it is receiving as workers lose their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak.

He said extra staffing will be put in place, as well as more software to help the website handle more traffic. More servers will also be added.

DeSantis said Monday that the computer system's capacity has been increased to handle 120,000 simultaneous connections, about double the peak usage in recent weeks.

What's the unemployment status in Florida? Since March 15, about 520,000 people have applied for unemployment in Florida. For context, only about 326,000 applied for unemployment in all of 2019.

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