RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal report shows jobless claims in Virginia spiked by nearly a factor of 20 as parts of the economy slowed or shuttered in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The report released Thursday shows that 46,885 Virginians filed unemployment claims for the week ending March 21. That's about 18 times higher than the previous four-week rolling average of 2,645 claims.
The increase is even sharper than the nation as a whole, where a spike of 3.28 million jobless claims jumped 14 times above the previous four-week rolling average.
The Virginia Employment Commission has experienced what it calls an unprecedented deluge in calls, and warns those trying to file jobless claims by phone that they will experience wait times of two hours or more. The commission plans to be open Saturday to take calls to try to deal with the volume, but those who have lost their jobs are urged to file their claims online if possible.
Many businesses have closed or drastically curtailed their business in the wake of state and federal orders that mandate or encourage people to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus.
More than 450 Virginians have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the most recent count Thursday from the Virginia Department of Health. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The vast majority of people recover.