Tennessee unemployment claims still high due to coronavirus

Published 2:32 pm Thursday, April 30, 2020

NASHVILLE (AP) — The number of Tennessee residents who filed new unemployment claims last week topped 43,700, bringing the total number of requests for benefits to more than 435,000 since businesses began closing in response to the new coronavirus outbreak.
The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development on Thursday reported new jobless claims for the week ending April 25. The highest number of new claims, nearly 15,000, was reported in counties surrounding Davidson County, which includes Nashville, the department said in a news release.
The amount of Tennessee residents seeking unemployment benefits has spiked since cities, counties and the state issued orders closing non-essential businesses in March. Only about 2,700 people in Tennessee filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 14, before the mass response to the virus outbreak.
Nationally, more than 3.8 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the U.S. economy slid further into a crisis that is becoming the most devastating since the 1930s.
Roughly 30.3 million people in the U.S. have now filed for jobless aid in the six weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began.
Tennessee’s Department of Health has reported 10,366 cases of COVID-19 and 195 deaths in the state.
Also Thursday, Nashville officials announced the city’s safer-at-home order will stay in place until at least May 8, saying the virus’ transmission rate and 14-day trend in new cases aren’t yet where they need to be to start reopening the economy.
“Today’s public health decisions will lead to earlier and more certain restart dates for our upcoming school year, for major fall and winter professional sports, our global tourism industry, and other events that have a significant impact on Nashville’s economy,” Mayor John Cooper said Thursday.
On Wednesday, Tennessee’s health department said it is offering drive-thru testing for the new coronavirus in 15 counties for the third straight weekend.
The department said in a news release that testing will be available Saturday in Blount, Bradley, Carroll, Carter, Fentress, Hamilton, Lincoln and Rutherford counties.
Drive-up testing is scheduled Sunday in Campbell, Giles, Hamilton, Lauderdale, Sequatchie, Sumner, Unicoi and Warren counties.
Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Wednesday that the state will start testing all residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in coming weeks. There are more than 700 long-term care facilities in the state with more than 700,000 residents, the governor said.
Lee also said “close contact services” — including salons and barbershops — will be able to open Wednesday in 89 of Tennessee’s 95 counties, and the state will provide guidance on masks and other precautions for those businesses.
Also, German automaker Volkswagen is reassessing plans to resume production at its Chattanooga plant Sunday. A new start date has not been set.
In Memphis, health officials say 155 inmates and 37 employees at the Shelby County jail have tested positive for COVID-19.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and be life-threatening.

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