1 Million Californians Have Filed for Unemployment Due to Coronavirus Pandemic, Governor Says

Over 1 million Californians have filed claims for unemployment insurance during the coronavirus pandemic said California Governor Gavin Newsom during a Wednesday press briefing.

Newsom enacted a stay at home measure for California in March in order to curb the spread of coronavirus, causing many businesses within the state to close down.

"We just passed the 1 million mark, in terms of the number of claims, just since March 13," Newsom said.

According to information sent to Newsweek on Wednesday by the California Employment Development Department (EDD), Governor Newsom's numbers are "unofficial estimates of claims received." However, EDD was able to "confirm that there has been a huge spike in the number of claims coming in from impacted Californians."

By EDD's official count, 101,593 claims were processed during the first two weeks of March. "Approximately 41,000 claims processed per week is the most recent average over the last few months," EDD said.

"Given the unprecedented increase in [unemployment insurance] claims due to COVID-19, we have taken several steps—working around the clock, including Saturdays and Sundays, and redirecting hundreds of staff to process claims—to ensure every Californian gets benefits as timely as possible," EDD added.

If the relief bill proposed by the Senate passes, then California will be able to add $600 per week to its current $450 per week unemployment payments, legislation which Newsom called "very helpful, and it's very timely."

Unemployment numbers for the U.S. are expected to break previous records when they are released Thursday with between 1 and 4 million people projected to have filed claims during the coronavirus outbreak.

gavin newsom
More than one million California residents have filed for unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic said California Gavin Newsom Wednesday. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Newsom issued a stay at home order for the entire state of California in March closing down all non-essential businesses such as bars and nightclubs, dine-in restaurants and all public events and gatherings.

While the shutdown placed many Californians out of work, Newsom also announced a temporary suspension of mortgages within the state, a move endorsed by four major U.S. banks.

"Families should not lose their homes because of COVID-19," Newsom tweeted Wednesday. "Very pleased that Wells Fargo, Citi, JPMorgan and US Bank have agreed to a 90 day grace period for mortgage payments for those impacted by #COVID19. A big sigh of relief for millions of CA families."

Families should not lose their homes because of COVID-19. Very pleased that Wells Fargo, Citi, JPMorgan, and US Bank have agreed to a 90 day grace period for mortgage payments for those impacted by #COVID19.

A big sigh of relief for millions of CA families.

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 25, 2020

Recent data from the California Department of Public Health indicated 2,535 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state. While approximately 66,800 tests for the virus had been conducted statewide, the results of 48,600 tests are still pending.

Newsom said Wednesday that more tests were being delivered to California but that "66,800 is not enough tests."

"It's one thing to do the diagnostics," Newsom said. "It's another to get word back. Tens of thousands of those tests are waiting for results to be finalized."

Newsom added that the state of California wants to "keep retesting people that have recovered so we can learn more about the specifics about their experience."

While President Donald Trump has announced a deadline of Easter for loosening nationwide restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, Newsom said Tuesday that date may not be a viable goal for California.

"The question is early April," Newsom said. "I think it would be misleading to represent at least for California."

"Soberly, we look out over the course of eight to 12 weeks and I think we can continue to do what we've done, if we do that, hopefully then we'll be in a very different place," Newsom added.