Gov. Justice announces backlog of unemployment claims has been cleared; reports progress on mass nursing home testing

CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia health leaders and other officials today for his latest daily press briefing regarding the State’s COVID-19 response. 

Backlog of Unemployment Claims cleared

During his remarks today, Gov. Justice announced that staff from Workforce West Virginia, with assistance from members of the West Virginia National Guard, have successfully cleared the massive backlog of unemployment claims that had been submitted over the past several weeks as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 150,000 unemployment claims have been filed since March 1 this year. For perspective, in a typical year, WorkForce West Virginia receives an average of approximately 3,400 claims in the month of March.

“I can’t say enough for how we’ve pounded a massive round peg into a square hole in West Virginia and been able to punch out all these claims,” Gov. Justice said. “I hate like crazy that they didn’t all come out on day one. But all the people that were sitting at home worried, I hope there’s real-live relief coming your way and that all your dollars are going to be backfilled and taken care of.

“Now, there are some claims that need some manual work because the claimant has listed an incorrect business address or other type of personal information that we need to get straight. But WorkForce is dealing with these individuals and calling them and helping them on a personal basis.”

Once again, Gov. Justice also discussed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), an option for additional assistance benefitting workers who would otherwise not be eligible for unemployment compensation. This includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, workers with insufficient work histories, gig workers, ride sharing drivers, and more.

The Governor reminded qualified workers that applications for PUA will open on Friday, April 24, 2020, at 10 p.m. Applications will be available online at 

Progress continues testing all Nursing Home Residents and Staff

Gov. Justice also announced that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and West Virginia National Guard continue to work around the clock to test all nursing home residents and staff members statewide for COVID-19.

Visit to view the most up-to-date COVID-19 testing numbers

This week, West Virginia became the first state in the nation to begin a full-scale nursing home testing program. Today, Gov. Justice announced that he expects all testing to be complete by the middle of next week. 

“They’ve done amazing work in testing the nursing homes and they are proceeding ahead very, very quickly,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s a monumental task if you think about it. We had tested 22,000 people in 40 days and now we’re going out and testing 28,000 people in a very, very concise period.

“And we’re getting better results than what I’d feared,” Gov. Justice said. “And this program, with West Virginia being first in the nation to do it, you see, if you watch the national news, the CDC and everybody's coming out and saying we should be doing this on a national basis.”