Editor’s note: This article was updated 2:50 p.m. April 24.
Jobless claims in Vermont have reached 81,947 since Gov. Phil Scott declared a state of emergency last month and ordered residents to restrict business activities and “stay home” in response to the coronavirus.
According to the Vermont Department of Labor’s weekly unemployment insurance claims report, the number initial jobless claims processed for the week ending April 11 totaled 9,662, which are on top of 16,474 claims from the week of April 4 and 14,633 the week prior to that.
Supplemental information provided by the Unemployment Insurance Division notes that while 9,662 claims were processed this week,13,511 total claims were filed. Labor Department staffers continue to be backlogged in processing applications due to the high volume of layoffs in the state.
The supplemental information also states the department has processed 78,098 claims since March 15. When adding the 3,849 filed-but-not-processed claims for this week, the total unemployment claims amount to 81,947.
Prior initial unemployment insurance claims that have continued on in the current week reached 31,204, according to the Thursday jobs report.
The U.S. Labor Department on Thursday reported 5.2 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims for the week, bringing nationwide job losses to 22 million since governors began shutting down their state economies in March.
Number of deaths
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 35 people in Vermont have died with COVID-19 symptoms. State Health Department guidelines allow doctors to list coronavirus as the cause of death with or without a positive lab test result.
State health officials have administered 11,507 tests and confirmed 768 total cases. About 30 people are currently being monitored, while 803 individuals have completed monitoring. Approximately half of all cases — 377 — are located in Chittenden County.
Comparison with flu and pneumonia
For the three-week period ending March 28, Vermont had 30 people die of pneumonia while six others died from seasonal flu. Weekly statistics are tracked by the National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Surveillance System.
U.S. COVID-19 deaths
The U.S. coronavirus death total hit 27,012 Thursday — 4,141 of those deaths were attributed to COVID-19 without a positive lab test result. Nearly 43 percent of the deaths — 11,586 — occurred in New York.
The CDC estimates that between 24,000 and 63,000 Americans have died of seasonal flu since Oct. 1.
Scott promises fix for slow delivery of unemployment money
Michael Harrington, acting commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, said the state is doing everything it can to expand its claims-processing capabilities, adding 30 additional staff and using a third-party organization to help carry the caseload. Between 20,000 and 30,000 unemployed Vermonters are not yet receiving benefits.
Scott, speaking at a press conference Thursday, said he would “accept full responsibility for this.” He added that if the problem isn’t solved within days the state will have to come up with new solutions.
Some states ready to open up again
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is preparing to open the Lone Star State for business, but in stages. The governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware are likewise teaming up for the reopening of their economies and schools.
To ensure public health as they plan to re-open, Massachusetts, Utah and North Dakota have been looking into “test-and-trace” programs meant to be able to quickly identify and track those who may still carry the virus.
President Donald Trump late Thursday afternoon released White House national guidelines for getting America back to work and individual mobility.
In the past five weeks, dating to the last week before the economic shutdowns began, the initial claims for unemployment for Vermont have been: