HOUSTON, Texas — Pipeline inspector John Stabler was suddenly laid off two weeks ago, one of the hundreds of Texans now jobless due to the financial impact of the coronavirus.
“It means my bills are going to back up,” Stabler said at the time.
He also spoke about initially navigating the complicated jobless claim process.
“It tells you to go online, and when you go online, it tells you that you can’t do it online and gives you a number to call,” Stabler said.
But Stabler reported Tuesday that he finally filed a claim after days of trying.
“I did it about three or four times a day, at various times," said Stabler. "I actually got through ... on a Saturday.”
The Texas Workforce Commission tweeted that it took more claims from March 14 to Monday than in all of 2019 thanks to the COVID-19 crisis.
"Over 700,000 in the last few weeks," said TWC spokesman Cisco Gamez. "So there are Texans getting through, there are Texans applying and filing. ... Online, the process only takes about seven minutes.”
Gamez said the agency improved website bandwidth and added hundreds of call center staff since physical offices had to close to the public.
Last week, he said there were over 3 million calls in a single day.
"We encourage viewers just to bear with us as we get to them,” said Gamez.
Stabler said he’s happy to get unemployment benefits so many people are seeking.
“I guess you just keep trying," said Stabler. "They were nice enough to back-date it for me, so that kind of relieves a lot of stress too.”
He said he'd really just like to get back to work full time.
For more information, visit the Texas Workforce Commission's website.
The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.
Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.
But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.
The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.
Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...
- The air by coughing or sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
Help stop the spread of coronavirus
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Eat and sleep separately from your family members
- Use different utensils and dishes
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
- If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
- Follow social distancing
Lower your risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.
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