These are some of the faces of coronavirus unemployment

Frustrations, fears for those trying to file for benefits

These are some of the faces of coronavirus unemployment
These are some of the faces of coronavirus unemployment

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – More than 200,000 people have applied for unemployment in Florida just in the last week, however, many more are saying they are having trouble getting through to anyone either online or on the phone with Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity.

"It either rings or it doesn't ring, or you get a busy a signal," said Heather Musser, a single mother recently furloughed.

Musser's last day of work at the salon she worked at as a licensed esthetician was on March 21st, now on 12 days without work. She's spent every single one of those days trying to file for unemployment.

She said she tried to file a new claim, but said she already had a login though she's never received unemployment before. So instead she had to request a new pin. When she got the new pin she said they did not recognize her file.

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"The computer then kicks you back and it says it doesn't have any of your information on file and then ti tells me to call the 1-800-number," Musser said.

She's been calling for hours every day, with no help -- only busy signals and hang-ups.

"I wanted to cry, like I can't get ah old of anyone," she said.

Those frustrations now meeting her fears, knowing her last paycheck was Friday.

"I don't know what's next and it's funny because I haven't got emotional until now," Musser said. "I'm scared, I'm upset, I'm all sorts of things."

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Orange County resident Amanda Kossina is also worried. She is a newborn photographer, who just opened up her own studio in Avalon Park. Now with no income coming in as she's not taking any pictures these days.

"We've got bills we got to pay, we got two kids, we got a house," Kossina said. "If I have to refund people for the sessions I can't do, which is out of my control, it's almost tens of thousands of dollars."

Kossina has applied for a small business loan, but is also trying to apply for unemployment. Trying to log on at 2:30 Thursday morning, only for the site to crash.

"It's extremely frustrating," she said. "Even at 230 in the morning I couldn't log in, it kept on crashing."

Thursday, the director of Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity, which hands out unemployment claims apologized to frustrated families.

“From my heart, I apologize for what you’re going through,” Ken Lawson said. “There’s a full commitment from me, personally and professionally, to get you the resources you need from my department.”

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About the Author:

Nadeen Yanes joined News 6 as a general assignment reporter in 2016. She grew up in Leesburg and graduated from the University of Florida. Nadeen has won three Associated Press Awards for her reporting on the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the trial of the Pulse gunman's wife and the capture of an accused cop killer, Markeith Loyd.