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COVID-19 impacts: Filing for unemployment and feeling discouraged

Stephanie Serrano

KUNR Public Radio

Thai Corner Café in downtown Reno “made a difficult decision to close our restaurant until further notice,” restaurant owners said.
Photo: Kevin MacMillan

RENO, Nev. — Nevada is seeing a surge in new unemployment claims because of business closures. Several Reno-area locals said they are finding it hard to file for unemployment with the uptick in filing.

Myrka Alvarez lost her serving position at a local Galena restaurant. While Alvarez was submitting her claim, an error popped up on her computer screen that wouldn’t let her move forward with the process. When she tried to call the DETR office in Northern Nevada, all she heard on the other end of the phone line was an endless ring tone.

“We were calling and nothing. I was calling the unemployment offices, too, and they just have you on there forever and ever,” Alvarez said. “It just rings and rings. And other times, you call and it sounds like they just hang up.”

Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation officials said they are experiencing a high demand in calls and currently working to expand their staffing by hiring and moving people around the department.

But as new staff are hired, they still need to be trained.

Bryan Valladares, a server who was temporarily laid off from a steakhouse inside the Grand Sierra Resort — a job he’s enjoyed since 2013 — said he’s worried “for older people who aren’t so tech savvy.”

“… I’m not really worried about my claim because I posted it online and I know they’ll get to it, but for somebody who is doing it over the phone, it just seems like they’re just stuck there,” Valladares. “They’re just stuck for hours and hours, hoping that they can get somebody to help them.”

Go here to read more — and listen to interviews — from KUNR’s Stephanie Serrano.