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Unemployment benefits concerning locals as numbers

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- With unemployment numbers hitting records nationwide, Iowans feel the pressure as they await their benefits' checks.

More than 40, 000 Iowans applied for COVID-19 unemployment benefits last week compared to roughly 2,200 the week prior. All this occurring after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds ordered most Iowa businesses to close due to coronavirus concerns.

"They drop the axe and its for real. So, now's the part where we go 'what are we going to do?'" said Chuck Landau, the owner of Dough Joey's Pizza in Cedar Falls.

With business drastically slowing down, Landau hopes to give his staff something extra as they wait for their unemployment benefits.

"We match tips that are brought in to help our staff, which has been overwhelming response and people have really stepped up to the plate there and we've been able to help out a little bit," Landau said.

Some of his employees are still able to work a few hours as they wait to draw unemployment.

"I don't know it just sort of shocking it happened so suddenly," said Samantha Williams, who works at Doughy Joey's with her father, Eric, who are both new to the system.

Others, like bus driver Becky Orvis, are pros.

"I've been at it long enough, I start preparing this time of year," Orvis said. She applies for benefits every summer and Christmas break. With nearly 40,000 more Iowans filing in a week, she thinks the system is taxed, recalling the issues she saw last week.

"Come Tuesday, the system in Des Moines crashed and all of our claims that were filed Sunday and Monday were kicked out of the system. Between my supervisor and myself we scrambled to get a hold of everybody and say 'call Des Moines,' so they can get you reregistered." Orvis said, who is also a union rep.

Her advice in how to handle the process is to just ride it out.

"Just be patient it takes about 10 working days for that first check to get to you," Orvis said.

Neither she or the Williams' have seen their checks.

"Considering both incomes in our house abruptly stopped, I'm hoping something comes through soon," Eric Williams said.

The state says claims related to COVID-19 should be paid out within 7 to 10 days after their filing. Employers will not be charged through these claims.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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