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Floridians mad at unemployment situation plan virtual protest

Less than 22 percent of more than 700 verified claims have been paid since March 15

Florida unemployment rate spikes in March
Florida unemployment rate spikes in March

ORLANDO, Fla. – Floridians upset at the state's unemployment system took part in a virtual protest across social media platforms on Friday.

People were encouraged to make signs that told their stories of frustration and post online using the hashtag #FLDEOVirtualProtest.

[TIMELINE: The spread of coronavirus in Florida]

The event was organized by Kayla Langborgh after learning there were many who wanted to get their message across to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

“I had seen some other people posting they were looking to do in-person protests, but due to the coronavirus, I just don’t think that’s a smart idea right now,” she said.

Langborgh said she filed for unemployment on March 18, but so far hasn’t received a response.

"I go on the website daily and try to check my status and it still says pending," Langborgh said. "It's the most frustrating thing in the world. There are days when I just want to throw my computer out the window and scream."

The majority of those out of work in Florida are also waiting for payment from the state's bogged down unemployment system.

According to the DEO, less than 22 percent of more than 700 verified claims have been paid since March 15.

Secretary Jonathan Satter, who was put in charge of the system last week, said on Wednesday that progress is being made and when claims are processed, benefits will be retroactive.

"We're going to honor those applications as of the date of March 9th if they were unemployed on that date," Satter said. "That's when our system started to have problems."

Langborgh said that progress is too slow for many and hopes their message from Friday’s protest will be taken to heart.

“Our hope is that they will see it and respond to it and we want to see them speeding up their process,” she said.

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