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More Changes Under Way For Ohio's Unemployment System

Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted

The state is preparing to release the new unemployment numbers Thursday as the agency that processes jobless claims continues to experience challenges. But leaders say a new round of improvements is coming.

People trying to file for unemployment say they're experiencing long wait times, having trouble filing their claims online, and cannot get questions answered.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted says the unemployment filing system is antiquated and that Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is adding more features by the end of next week to handle the unprecedented influx of filings.

"Bottom line is that this process will not stop improving until everybody is served and that reassurance that everything that you're eligible for will be backdated to that time," says Husted.

The new additions include a virtual call center to speed up wait times for people needing to talk to a person, an interactive voice recognition system to answer questions, and onboarding 300 additional staff members.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced during his daily briefing Wednesday that the Ohio Hospital Association is working on a plan to begin allowing elective procedures.

State health officials say Ohio is in the peak of the coronavirus and leaders are beginning to make plans for the next stage of addressing the virus. DeWine says that includes beginning to lift the ban on elective surgeries. He says the hospital association's plan will look to begin treating patients who have delayed their health care needs due to the pandemic and health orders.

The ban on elective surgeries was two-fold, according to DeWine, to keep hospital crowds down and conserve personal protection equipment.

"I've asked them, as they put the plan together to still be mindful of the PPE challenge because that's not something that we can just blow off. We've got to continue to be concerned with that," DeWine says.

The administration is also working to conserve personal protection equipment for first responders.

DeWine says he expects to see the plan from the Ohio Hospital Association by April 22.

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