- Associated Press - Thursday, April 30, 2020

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland reported 37,225 unemployment claims filed for last week, as residents voiced frustration Thursday with a new state website used to file unemployment claims at a time of an unprecedented surge due to the coronavirus.

The most recent number of claims mark the third straight week the numbers have declined from more than 109,000 the week of April 4. There have been more than 385,000 claims filed in the last six weeks.

The number of cases has bedeviled the state labor department, prompting a new website to be put in use late last week.

Lauren Spiller, who lost her job in clinical research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine mid-March, struggles to find the words to describe the 10 hours over two days she spent simply to recertify her unemployment claim online. At one point, she waited with 124,000 people ahead of her. When it was her turn, she only had 10 minutes to set up a new account on a new website. She was knocked off after it took longer than that, forcing her to start over. Then, there were the frozen screens.

“It’s really upsetting. At one point I just sat on my couch and cried and said ‘oh my god. It’s frozen again. I’m never going to get my check,’” Spiller, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, said. “It’s just a mess.”

Brandi Jaime, a CAT scan technician who was furloughed last month, spent four hours in a virtual waiting room on Maryland’s new unemployment insurance website this week. After the wait, she said there were multiple problems with the website simply not working. While she managed to work through the problems, she hates to think of doing it again.

“It’s so frustrating to the point you want to cry,” Jaime, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, said Thursday. “You get so mad and you almost just want to give up, but you need the money. It’s just really bad,” Jaime said.

Gov. Larry Hogan acknowledged the “serious problems” with a new website during a news conference Wednesday. He said while the state has handled more claims in a short time this year than all of last year, the governor said people should not have to worry about getting the resources they need. Hogan described the state’s efforts “simply not good enough.”

“The IT contractor who developed this site and the Department of Labor have fallen short of the high standards that we have set, and the people of Maryland deserve better and the buck stops with me,” Hogan said. “So, I am going to make sure that they do and that we do whatever it takes to get this straight, so that every single Marylander gets every single penny of financial assistance that they deserve.”


Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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