ST. LOUIS ( -- As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and stay-at-home orders begin to be extended, unemployment claims in Missouri and Illinois are spiking.

By no means is it easy for anyone who just lost a job, and when you lose a job at the same time as thousands of other people, the situation becomes even more complex.

Mary Jo Nelson, a hostess at Lotawata Creek in Fairview Heights, knows she’s in a precarious position. With the dining room closed, she’s constantly worried her job will disappear.

“It’s a day-to-day thing you are wondering everyday if you’re going to have a job basically,” she said.

So Nelson has been calling the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The agency is dealing with a lot of volume, with more than 130,000 claims in the first three weeks of March alone.

Nelson said despite all her calls, she’s never spoken to a live person and all the offices are closed.

She doesn’t own a computer, so she needs to call.

“I can call 800 number, it tells me another number,” Nelson said. “I call that number, it tells me to call the 800 number again.”

For those lucky enough to own a computer, IDES is asking them to file by the first letter of their last name to ease the online traffic.

Last names beginning with A through M should file on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.

Last names beginning with N through Z should file on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Saturdays will be open to anyone who could not file during their allotted window.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved


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