GREENSBORO, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper wants furloughed workers to get some relief.
"I have signed a new executive order today to help furloughed workers whose employers have paid them a severance, or a furlough payment," Governor Cooper said, "Before this order, these employees were ineligible for unemployment compensation. With this order, they now qualify."
According to the North Carolina Division for Employment Security, 630,000 people have already filed for unemployment.
With many people out of work and need help, furloughed workers represent the newest category of beneficiaries of unemployment funds.
But many folks already in line told WFMY News 2 that they still can't get the help they need and are struggling to try to apply.
"It's getting a little rough trying to take care of my family and survive without any income, and the stimulus check, I haven't gotten it yet," said Collin Bradsher of Burlington.
Bradsher, a handyman, said work dried up at the beginning of last month when the coronavirus began to spread.
He said he's tried to file for unemployment benefits for the past several weeks, to no avail.
"The 1-800 number pretty much tells me high call volume and then hangs up and then I finally got someone this morning was on hold for 3 1/2 hours only to have somebody hang up on me," lamented Brasher.
Bradsher is not the only one who has faced that problem. Since last month DES said it had processed more than 630,000 claims. Some of those applicants experience log jams with the phone system and web portal.
According to its website, DES expects to have more than 1,600 people working to process claims and issue payments.
Thomasville resident Kimberly Hedgecock said after many tries over a 5 week period, she had finally got through to one of the DES call center staff, Tuesday morning.
"Yeah, finally, after several weeks. I have been checking it daily, trying to call daily. Since I started calling before 8 AM and I finally got through, after three hours on hold, I finally got through," said Kimberly Hedgecock.
Hedgecock said calling early in the morning made a difference.
"I gave it a sufficient amount of time before I started trying to call and I had done my research. But we're all going to bounce back from this so anybody that's trying best of luck to them," she added.
DES completed the implementation of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which pays an additional $600 in weekly unemployment insurance.
Meanwhile, Governor Cooper said he plans to work with the General Assembly to get more assistance to North Carolinians.
FACTS NOT FEAR
Remember facts, not fear when talking about the coronavirus. You should take the same measures recommended by health leaders to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses. That means washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and covering coughs and sneezes.
WHERE YOU GET INFORMATION ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS IS IMPORTANT
It is important to make sure the information you are getting about the coronavirus is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. Be careful not to spread misinformation about coronavirus on social media.
NC CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE
The state also has a special hotline set up where you can call 866-462-3821 for more information on the coronavirus. You can also submit questions online at ncpoisoncontrol.org or select chat to talk with someone about the virus.
You can also text keyword VIRUS to WFMY News 2 at 336-379-5775 to find out more information.