Another 128,105 Texans filed for unemployment last week, just a slight dip from the roughly 134,000 claims filed the week ending May 16.
Since mid-March, about 2.2 million Texans have filed for unemployment as state and local orders attempting to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus brought the economy to a standstill. Nationwide, just over 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total of Americans filing for unemployment in the past 10 weeks to more than 40 million.
The state has moved into its plan to gradually reopen the economy. Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott permitted child care centers to reopen, as well as bars at 25% capacity, part of the second phase of reopening. And Tuesday, the governor issued a proclamation allowing mall food courts and water parks to resume operations.
A quarter of a million Texans with approved unemployment claims still have to request payment, said Cisco Gamez, a spokesperson for the Texas Workforce Commission, at a Wednesday media briefing. After a claim is approved, Texans must request payment every two weeks on their assigned day to receive benefits.
Texans can request payment by logging on to the Texas Workforce Commission’s website. They’ll need their user ID and password. Or they can call 800-558-8321, where they will need their Social Security number and a four-digit PIN. The Texas Workforce Commission says if Texans request late, it won’t make them ineligible for benefits, but it could delay their payments.
Shell evacuates employees after outbreak on rig in Gulf of Mexico
Nine Shell employees were evacuated from an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico after five people tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The European oil and gas company, which has headquarters in Houston, did not specify at which offshore platform the outbreak happened but said it will reduce staffing there to minimal levels, according to the Chronicle.
Shell operates nine offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, and about 160 people work on the rig that was the site of coronavirus cases, KHOU-TV reported.
Texas reports 57,921 cases, 1,562 deaths
Texas officials are expected to release the latest number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus Thursday. On Wednesday, the state reported 1,361 more cases of the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of known cases to 57,921. In the last week, the state reported an average of 942 new cases per day.
Reagan County reported its first case Wednesday; almost every county in Texas has reported at least one confirmed case of the virus. Harris County has reported the most cases, 11,281, followed by Dallas County, which has reported 9,188 cases.
The state has reported 26 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 1,562.
Animal testing equipment will be used to test human virus samplesAfter months of red tape, Texas A&M announced Thursday that laboratory equipment in Amarillo and College Station typically used to test animals will now be allowed to test human samples for COVID-19, KFDA Amarillo reported. The Amarillo location will be able to process up to 600 samples per day, but all samples must come from traditional testing sites. Previously, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had prohibited the use of the veterinary labs for coronavirus testing, citing lab personnel’s lack of human lab experience.