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Filing for unemployment during COVID-19

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

CHARLESTON, W.V. (WOWK) – ‘We are experiencing an unusually high call volume at this time.’

This is what thousands of Americans are hearing when they call an unemployment office, asking for help with filing a claim.

The reason is because of an unprecedented spike in call volumes; after thousands were laid off because of COVID-19.

“They are shutting down the warehouses and we’re gonna be out of work for a few weeks,” said Mikel Gregory.

“We’re not certain how long we’ll be out of work,” said Desiray Mitchell.

Gregory and Mitchell are two of dozens of people, who showed up to the Workforce West Virginia office in Charleston on Friday; trying to get some help.

“I tried to call probably four times,” said Mitchell. “And I kept getting the same thing. They would hang right back up. That’s why I came down here.”

But right now, all Workforce locations are closed.

So where should people go if they need help filing for unemployment?

“The best place to start is at our website,” said Andy Malinoski with Workforce West Virginia.  

“Because of this unusually high call volume, you may need to stagger the times you call. You may find the system is slow.”

The most important thing, Malinoski says, is to keep trying.

“We are working very hard to adjust to the volume and help as many people as we can as efficiently as possible,” said Malinoski.

Thursday, Governor Jim Justice issued an executive order. Waiving the one-week waiting period for benefits, the work search requirement, and shifting some state workers to address the huge spike in claims.

As for Gregory and Mitchell…

“We all have to get money. We have kids we have to feed, family members we have to take care of; especially the seniors, we have to stick together,” said Mitchell.

“Try to stick in there. Try to keep calling. Go online as much as you can, and hope you can get through,” said Gregory.

Keep calling. Keep trying.

To apply online, go to or you can try to call 304-558-0291. 

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