TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX)-About 30,500 Idahoans have been paid nearly $18 million in unemployment in the last three weeks as thousands have lost their jobs amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Idaho Department of Labor announced a little more than 60,600 payments have been processed for people so far. The department said there continues to be increased demand for services, which they are trying to speed up the process by hiring 12 more claims specialists, reassigning other department staff and adjusting call times to help process claims more effectively.

After a successful trial run the Department of Labor will now  take incoming calls between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the week and will use the time between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to follow up on claims. Claims specialists will call people back during the afternoon hours to answer questions and clear up issues on applications.

During a test last week the department said specialist were able to clear upwards of 800 issues concerning claims in just the two hours. Still, department officials say claimants need to be patient as it may take several days before a specialist calls back.

People do not need to call the Idaho Department of Labor to file a claim, instead they can go online.

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