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Thousands for unemployment benefits after coronavirus-related layoffs

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Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 21:11:17-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Businesses have closed or slowed down because of the impact of the coronavirus. As a result,
the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency is working to meet the demand of new benefit claims.

"I had a feeling over the weekend I'd probably get a call not to come in (to work)," Paul Rozegnal told FOX 17.

Various industries have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. That's lead to layoffs for people like bar manager Sandy Lenger. The governor ordered bars and restaurants to close to slow the spread of the virus.

Lenger said her bar is supposed to "be closed for approximately two weeks" and "I was told just to come down here and I'm glad they were open."

At times on Wednesday, there was no line outside the unemployment office. But a couple of hours before closing, the line extended in the parking lot. That not because it was crowded inside, but the office wants to prevent mass gatherings. The officer practiced 'social distancing' to keep germs at bay.

Some say they came in-person since they're having trouble getting through on the phone, and they say the unemployment website's been crashing.

"I just came to check on my claim to see what was going on," Vickeia Mayweather said.

Mayweather, a school bus driver, is out of work at least through the April 5th since the state closed the schools.

"I need to keep my rent, my vehicle. Ya know, bills got to be paid," she said.

Mayweather added, "I want to keep my lights and gas on and stuff."

For some, like Aarin Vincent, the timing of their job loss is questionable since she says she wasn't given a reason.

"It's stressful when you lose your income with no warning. So you're just trying to scramble and figure things out," Vincent said.

Rozegnal said,"(There's) nothing any of us can do at this point and just try and deal with the precautions and go from there and see what happens."

To meet with someone at an unemployment office, you need to schedule an appointment. You can also still try to apply on their website or by calling their hotline at 1-866-500-0017.

Monday, the governor announced she will be expanding eligibility for benefits through April 14th. The expansion details can be found here .