May 19, 2020

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis May 19 Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript

Ron DeSantis Press Conference Transcript May 19
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsFlorida Governor Ron DeSantis May 19 Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a coronavirus press conference on Tuesday, May 19. DeSantis talked about issues with the unemployment system in Florida.


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Ron DeSantis: (00:00)
… It’s been done throughout the state. You’re going to have one in Opa-locka, Daytona Beach, North Lauderdale, Miramar, and Sarasota. And those will be able to do at each site 200 individuals per day. We’re now up to 15 drive through sites that the state is supporting or administering directly. And of course, there are other sites throughout the state that healthcare providers have set up, which we really appreciate. Of those 15 sites, we are running at about half capacity. So, if people do want to get tested, they have an opportunity to come get tested and I would advise them to take advantage of that. The one site in Broward, the original CB Moore Park site, typically will do between 500 and 750, which is a really good number and I think it did 755 yesterday, which was great. Most of the other sites run between 33% and 50% capacity over the last couple of weeks.

Ron DeSantis: (01:02)
And so, if you want a test, they’re now in all corners of the state. Panhandle, Southwest Florida, of course Southeast Florida, central Florida, Northeast Florida. Please take advantage of that and do it, we want people to be able to get tested. Now, one of the reasons why we may not have quite as much as demand as you have had a decline in COVID like illness, visits statewide as well as influenza like illness visits statewide. So, I would imagine that when people feel sick, they’re more likely to want to get tested. If they don’t have symptoms, that’s a good thing. Now, you can still get tested if you don’t have symptoms, but I understand why people may not want to do that. So, the total tests. So, this is 45 day overview. If you notice yesterday, the state reported over 30,000 test results. Now, these are when the state gets the test results.

Ron DeSantis: (01:55)
So, it doesn’t mean that that’s the number of tests that are administered. What happens is there’ll be backlogs with private labs sometimes. Now, we’re turning around the rapid tasks with our mobile unit. That’s reported the next day, which is very good. So, you see there’s some up and down, but the trend is obviously up if you look since we’ve been in phase one, we’re typically between 15 and 25,000 test results a day, of course the 15th is an exception and there were backlog results. They then were put the next day, and so you had a higher 27,000, probably should have been around 15,000 both days, but that’s just the way it is. There was one of the days, I think it was Sunday’s report, that had 500 positives from Miami Dade and 400 of those were backlog results from April 24th.

Ron DeSantis: (02:47)
So, that was more than three weeks ago. So, that’s just when you’re dealing with some of the private test sites, when you’re dealing with some of the private labs, but I think the trend is up and clearly the accessibility is there. As the tests have gone up dramatically, you still have seen the positivity rate. In fact, I think today it was 1.9% statewide. The only times we’ve even been at four or five lately is when you’ve had prison outbreaks. At a prison outbreak, you’re going to have a higher percentage of the inmates are going to test positive because it’s spreads when you have a wing of people that are infected. And then, the nursing homes typically are going to be more than 2% or 3%. Those are anywhere, I think the staff is typically 3%, 4% positive. Residents are a little bit higher than that. In most of what we have been seeing, last week saw some prison outbreaks. Today, not as much on the prisons. There were some, but anytime you see a little spurt, almost always affiliated with a longterm care facility. So, we’re going to continue working on that. But the testing is available for Floridians who want it, and we would obviously urge you to just go out and get it done.

Ron DeSantis: (03:58)
All right, reemployment assistance update. So, we faced in Florida a prospect of really an unprecedented surge in reemployment claims, given the unprecedented nature of what was effectively a national shutdown of huge portions of our economy. And that was going to be a challenge under any circumstances, but it was an even greater challenge given that this system, which the state has paid a lot of money for in the past was really not up to the job. This was a system that was designed to have 1000 individual users on the website at a given time, and you could surge it to 5,000. So, that was the vision of what you would need. Well, when you’re in a situation like this, that’s the equivalent of throwing a jalopy in the Daytona 500. It’s just not going to cut it. And so, you needed to expand capacity big time. We did that, I’ll go over some of the steps that we’ve taken and continue to take, but this was a big challenge. It’s taken a lot of work. This is still not the best designed system, but as of yesterday almost a million unique, complete and eligible applicants. And of that, you have 97.6% has received payment. So, that was someplace that we were so far away of six weeks ago.

Ron DeSantis: (05:28)
So, now you’re in a situation [inaudible 00:05:29] 975,656, 100 Floridians have been processed and have received payment. And here’s how the math comes. You have total claims about 2 million, but some were duplicates because, look, I understand people were… When the connect system, you couldn’t even get on it, they would go submit a paper application when PEGA was put up, some people did PEGA. So, obviously you got to separate out, you only get one application. And then, there are some that just will go on and they’ll put some information, but don’t actually complete the application. So, if you deduct that, you’re at 1.6 million unique claims. There’s 172,770 that are currently in the verification process, and I’ll mention as we go on a little bit what that’s all about. So you have 1.468 million total processed claims, and this is all just in the last two months. Most of it in the last probably six or eight weeks. So, you have that. 468,000 are ineligible for reemployment assistance in the state. There’s various reasons for that. There are some who are independent contractors who wouldn’t qualify under state law, but as you note, there’s almost 100,000 who are eligible for the federal $600.

Ron DeSantis: (06:50)
Most of the applicants fortunately are eligible for both, but you do have some that aren’t. And then, of course you have some people that just aren’t eligible. Some of them don’t even live in Florida, some of them make money out of state, some of them don’t have a valid identity, social security number. So, about a million eligible and 97.6% of those who are eligible and processed have been paid. And since March 15th, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has paid out $2.659 billion. $2,659,797, 859 just since March 15th. And so, to say that is unprecedented in the agency’s history really wouldn’t be doing that word justice. In fact, if you look out, the department has paid out more money in the last 10 weeks than it had in the previous five years combined. So, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, if you aggregate all the money that the agency paid out, you’ve had more just in the last 10 weeks than that. And so, that’s a big time effort. It’s obviously has required a lot of trial and error and a lot of work, but that’s a significant amount of money.

Ron DeSantis: (08:24)
So, mentioned 2 million, you have almost 400,000 that were duplicates, have errors or incomplete. So, about 1.6 million unique claims. So, why are some reasons why people can’t be processed? Obviously, you got to complete the application. So, if you don’t have a last name, you don’t have a social security number, that’s going to be problematic. You have to be able to have your identity verified. So, a social security number is going to be required and it’s actually required under federal law that that be verified as a legitimate social security number. You will have claims that are locked for fraudulent activity, and there’s different triggers for that. Some triggers are someone submits a claim, it’s valid, they get paid, and then they go on again and submit another one. And that will cause the account to be locked. Sometimes, people just didn’t realize they got paid and were trying to do it again, but there are certain pitfalls with that. So, anytime you have multiple claims for the same person, there is going to be a fraud alert on that. And then, obviously you’ve got to provide work history information, re-employment assistance for people that lost their jobs, and so you have to show the source of employment.

Ron DeSantis: (09:39)
Of the 1.6 million unique claims, about half a million, 28.6%, were deemed ineligible at some point in the process. Now, normally in a normal environment, the majority of claims that are submitted for reemployment assistance in Florida are deemed ineligible. And so, this I think the majority of claims are being paid, but that’s obviously more-

Ron DeSantis: (10:03)
… reflective of these extraordinary circumstances. Why would you be deemed ineligible? If the employment separation was deemed a discharged for misconduct, if the claimant voluntarily quit work without good cause, the claimant received income for the week, they were claiming unemployment, if the claimant was not able and available for work. These are things just basically under the law and how you’re doing. We do have people that are applying for Florida reemployment, who are receiving wages in other states. That obviously, would render you ineligible if that were the case. You do have the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Most, the vast, vast majority of the applicants in Florida are getting up to $275 a week from the state and then $600 a week from the federal government. That is something that is broader than the state’s roles, because you could be an independent contractor and potentially qualify for what they call, PUA.

Ron DeSantis: (11:05)
We have almost 100,000 of the ineligible state RA claims, have already been deemed eligible for PUA. Then more of these are being worked through the system now. I’d imagine, you’ll see that number grow, which is obviously a good thing. I mean, the unemployment was written for the typical employee. You do have some folks who were contractors or whatever, that it’s really good that this federal, the federal benefits are available to them. This was something that required overcoming a lot of challenges. There’s still to this day, glitches being fixed, every single day ,software upgrades. But, we are in a situation where people, at one point the system was down 75% of the time. The system, the website wasn’t even up and any decent website is up 99.99% of the time.

Ron DeSantis: (11:57)
Big, big problem, and there were a lot of things done to troubleshoot that, including a mobile-friendly website, an adapter, so that data can be transferred from the new mobile-friendly site to connect, paper applications, which many people availed themselves and actually free printing and mailing through FedEx. I personally, talked to the CEO of FedEx and asked for that assistance and they graciously provided, also Career Source Florida and local governments, so getting those claims in. Now, this was at least a 100,000, I think many more than that. Massive boxes inside DEO had all kinds of employees having to surge to meet that. But I think it was the right thing to do because if someone couldn’t get on the system, they needed a way to be able to file the claim. The customer service centers, I mean, there were not very many calls being received in February, I can tell you that because unemployment was so low.

Ron DeSantis: (12:50)
This has been a big issue to be able to get more representatives. There’s now, five customer service centers with nearly 6,000 trained representatives. There are certain training that takes place in a matter of days for things like pin reset. Some of the more intensive had normally taken a month. That’s been streamlined to two weeks. Again, this is because of the problem being so massive. You have to search personnel to be able to do that. Obviously, reemployment is based on the idea that it’s temporary. You need to be looking for work. Well, obviously the jobs were drying up. It was not a time where you’re going to be able to go out and find a lot of people hiring. I, as governor suspended the work shirts requirements in a way, in order to speed this thing along.

Ron DeSantis: (13:38)
The system was overwhelmed. People could not sign on to recertify. You do have to recertify every two weeks. We suspended that, but we did bring in 72 servers to be able to allow more concurrent users on the Connect System. Again, that’s taking that jalopy, understanding you’re running in Daytona, you’re going to get left in the dust. Bring in more servers, make all these different upgrades, like the SAN system, transfer speeds, software optimizations. That’s getting under the hood, understanding you have what you have and how can you make it so that people can eventually get their money. That’s what was being done for days and days and weeks and weeks, and really 24 hours a day for a lot of this stuff, We wanted to make sure the money got out as quickly as possible. Now, normally, if you were unemployed, in say January, it would take a couple of weeks before, you really could even apply.

Ron DeSantis: (14:36)
There was a waiting week. You had to apply for jobs. Then by the time it went through the system, it was definitely a four to five-week process, in normal times. That obviously, was not something that we wanted to see here, given the urgency of the situation. Now, we didn’t get there immediately with shortening it. But now we’re at the point where we have. But, suspending, the waiting week was something that I did, important. We brought in over 2000 state employees and other agencies to be able to help with the reemployment issues. Of course, all kinds of hardware and software. Then we brought in the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to verify the Social Security numbers. We were running that through the federal government and their system was very slow. Obviously, everyone across the country is taxing that right now.

Ron DeSantis: (15:26)
It was doing 1000 a day, or something like that. That would have taken a year to go through all the claims we had. Fortunately, we had other options. So, we went in Highway Safety and they were able to verify the Social Security numbers, which is really good. It’s helped. It’s helped speed this process along. STEPS are receiving payment. Obviously, file a complete application at You will get a notification by email or mail. There’ll be directions explaining how to log into connect and proceed with your claim. I would just say, we’ve seen a lot of claims, where you don’t necessarily have all the information there. Social Security number, some of that very, very important because the claim is going to stop, if it doesn’t have those informations. There is a verification process. The amount of fraudulent requests, that just happens on any government program.

Ron DeSantis: (16:23)
You have to verify. You have to verify identity. You have to verify wages from previous employers. That’s what the law requires. But quite frankly, I think, the taxpayers want that money going to the people who are unemployed. But if someone isn’t really unemployed, then of course, you want to make sure that money is there for the people that really need it. There’s a process with that, and then of course, the monetary determination. What you will have sometimes is, and there’s a process under the law, where someone will apply for it and the employer may contest it, and so there’s just a process that ensues. That’s not because the Connect System isn’t functioning. That’s the way the law’s written. I was in Tampa and there was a reporter that said, “Hey, I have so and so who is still waiting for a check.”

Ron DeSantis: (17:07)
I was like, “Well, do you have any information?” He’s like, “No, I don’t have any.” I was like, “Well, give me the information, and we’ll look at it.” It turned out that the individual had been, had left the job voluntarily before the pandemic hit and the employer’s contesting it. So, there’s just a process that goes along with that. But if your employer contests it, that’s something that’s outside of whether Connect is functioning or not. The payments are going out via direct deposit or prepaid card, based on your selection. Obviously, the direct deposit is an easier thing. But I mean ,the amount of payments that are being processed through, unlike anything in the state’s history to be able to do this.

Ron DeSantis: (17:46)
This puts some claim numbers in perspective. You look throughout all those years when the system was designed to handle 1000 on the system a day, or at a time, maybe 5,000, you can see why. I mean, there just weren’t as many claims filed on a weekly basis, as we get into this massive uptick in claims. This is interesting. That’s the total claims filed on this. 1.474 million, just between March 15th and March 19th. I mean, I think March 15th is kind of a pretty good date. Actually, maybe even you would do the 17th or 18th, when they started the 15 days to stop the spread. Remember, the week before that, they were saying, go on a cruise, go to a campaign rally, just sneeze in your elbow and wash your hands.

Ron DeSantis: (18:33)
Then, that went into groups no larger than 10, shut down bars, restaurants, all this stuff. It was a massive pivot by the feds and by others. That was really the inflection point. Just in these two months, compare that, those 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, that’s the entire year for number of claims filed. It’s so out of proportion to anything that we have ever seen in, in modern Florida history, to be able to process that type of claim. Then you see, number of unique claims received, as the system got optimized better. You’d be able to get more people to submit claims. Then now, obviously, of course, up with a higher number there, reemployment assistance process. Again, we mentioned that, but as you see, late March, clearly there were problems.

Ron DeSantis: (19:29)
Weren’t able, the agency really wasn’t able to get in a good spot. I brought in John, to be able to do some things and he helped push it forward. Made a huge bunch of changes from that April 06, through, I would say, maybe 14th to 20th. Then you see, as those changes started to get in, as some of that architecture was fixed, you started to be able to get more claims processed. Those big jumps are on the weekends, when take some stress off the system, let people apply via Pega and then just process, process, process-

Ron DeSantis: (20:03)
… to be able to get people their money. And I think that that’s probably been the right way to go about it. All right, so payments made, as we said, 97.6 of eligible completed applications have received payment. And as you see, that’s really gone up particularly over the last several weeks, you see some jump there. It looks like about that third week of third or fourth week of April, and then continuing on into May to continue to see some jumps there.

Ron DeSantis: (20:33)
So almost now close to a million claimants paid. And again, that’s the amount of money that, that represents way more than the previous five years. Reemployment assistance fund distributed, again, almost $2.7 billion at this point. And we have seen some nice jumps, particularly in the last few weeks. Name me another state that actually puts this stuff out and we have a dashboard with this app and we decided to put that out when the system was at it’s [inaudible 00:21:05] in terms of effectiveness, the numbers were horrible.

Ron DeSantis: (21:08)
There were so many applications piling up. People couldn’t even get on, but we said, you know, we’ve got to put this out there and we need something, the agency needed something to be able to build towards. The agency wanted that’s public, you take pride in getting those numbers down and that’s exactly what we did. You go to some other states, no one has any idea how many claims are pending or how many people have been paid.

Ron DeSantis: (21:31)
And so putting up that dashboard was something that really hurt to do because none of us were obviously happy with how this looked at the beginning of April, but I think it was the right thing to do. And I think it has added fuel to the fire of the agency to say, you know what? We really need to get this out and that’s got to be our sole focus and that’s going to continue to be the sole focus is this is a difficult time.

Ron DeSantis: (21:55)
I think we’re transitioning hopefully into a time where the economy can start to do a little bit better and hopefully much better in the not too distant future. I wish that could happen overnight and maybe it will, but I got to assume that this is going to be a process. So in the meantime, get that payment out as quickly as possible. And I can report that there are people that have already been paid, who applied within the last 10 days, whose applications were submitted, fully done, they’re verified and then the payment has gone out.

Ron DeSantis: (22:28)
So the process that they’re using has gotten a lot better and it’s taken a lot of work. There is still issues with this because again, as you work on that engine, as you do all that, and you’re going around the track at Daytona, you still have somewhat of a jalopy. And so you can put those other engine parts in there, has made a difference, but you’ve got to keep tending to it and you got to keep doing other things. But I do want to thank Secretary Satter. It was a tough assignment to come in. I’m glad that we’ve paid out almost $2.7 billion. I know that more needs to be done and we’re going to continue to work with people to be able to get more done. And with that, I’m happy to take some questions.

Speaker 1: (23:11)
Since Secretary Satter took over, it’s a difference of night and day. And I wonder if there’s a communication issue because our Tampa affiliate asked people who hadn’t been paid in 30 days to email them and they got 4,100 emails since Monday. What would you say to them or is the department not communicating to them or?

Ron DeSantis: (23:29)
No, not at all. So I think and we’re going to have some answers to some of these questions with some of the folks who are kind of doing it nuts and bolts. But what I did was we had some of the stations and I think Central and North Florida sent a bunch of names they’ve gone through. And what you find is some have been paid at this point, some haven’t submitted all the information, some were denied because they were getting wages in another state.

Ron DeSantis: (23:54)
So there’s a whole bunch of different reasons why, but I think what I can say, and look, when you’re dealing with over a million individual payments or close to that for individual claimants, you can never say that there’s not going to be one thing, because this is an imperfect system, but I can tell you that when you go through your submitted process, people are paid in the order that they’re there.

Ron DeSantis: (24:17)
So if there’s somebody from March, who’s gone through, all done, they’re going to have gotten paid by now. So if you haven’t, then there is some issue that is holding it up. Sometimes these are issues where the person did have some problems with the application, but can be rectified and should be rectified. So we want to do that, but we actually went through, I think how many they go through from those media stations, hundreds, right this weekend?

Ron DeSantis: (24:42)
Yeah, at least several hundred and each individual, there’s a kind of a thing, why they haven’t been paid? Many of them fortunately now have been paid. So these were people that probably over the last week or two there. So some of the folks, the money is going out, a lot of money went out, I think yesterday and today more was going out.

Ron DeSantis: (25:00)
So that’s a good thing, but yeah, and look, no unemployment system in the country’s an ideal system. There’s all kinds of things, there’s myriad of rules and regulations. And there are people that could get caught up in that. That’s why I want them to be very proactive in reaching out and they have done that for time. So we want to continue to do it, but I can tell you if you go through and you apply and you’re valid and you’re eligible as of right now, we’re about 97% of all those folks have received at least one payment. And that’s a heck of a lot better than it was six weeks ago.

Speaker 2: (25:37)
Talk about March because your own charts indicate the problem that you had in March. And so the question is because there are some people, including people who are in the process and everything like that, who are suggesting that what happened is, is that there was some kind of glitch or problem with the March applications. And that perhaps because the CARES Act was not totally understood that it was coming down the line, that maybe a lot of applications went into a black hole and in fact, never got processed.

Ron DeSantis: (26:06)
I’ll let John and the agency handle that. Does anyone else have anything for me because they can answer all those questions. They’re more technical nature. Yes, sir.

Speaker 3: (26:14)
[inaudible 00:26:14] Jones sent an email that went public where she was criticizing or firing from the Department of Health saying that it was because she was being too transparent. She was the one who basically kind of created the COVID-19 dashboard-

Ron DeSantis: (26:29)
Yeah, I can just… I don’t know who she is, but they gave me an email that she sent to her supervisor said that, “Uh-oh, I may have said something that was misrepresented. I said, they’ve got a team working on it now. And then what I meant when I said don’t expect the same level of accessibility is that they are busy and can’t answer every single email they get right away. And that it was ridiculous that I managed to do it in the first place and that I was tired and needed a break from working two months straight and finally take a vacation.”

Ron DeSantis: (26:58)
That’s what she wrote then. So I don’t know about, I can tell you, our dashboard has been recognized nationally. Dr. Birx has praised it multiple times. It’s a heck of a tool just as we’re very transparent with this, you can drill down and see all the different data on each individual county. And I think that that’s a very good thing and I’m proud of the folks who work on it. And particularly those folks who, the skilled epidemiologists and those folks who are really good in data science, who’ve been able to put all that together. So we can provide this email to you. But yeah, it’s a nonissue. Brandon.

Brandon: (27:35)
You said a few weeks ago that you were interested in having your wife, Casey, tested, Serology tested antibodies, has that happened? And if so, what was the result?

Ron DeSantis: (27:47)
I don’t have anything to announce about any testing. I’ve not needed a diagnostic test, but I was tested when I went to the White House just simply because everyone that goes to the White House gets the Abbott Test. So I did that, but my view on that was I’m in a low risk age group. And we do have a lot more tests now, but it wasn’t anything I’d rather those test to somewhere else.

Ron DeSantis: (28:11)
In terms of the antibody testing, so we’ve done a number of tests at our drive through locations, which is very, very good to allow first responders and healthcare professionals come through. What we’re finding in Miami, I think the positive is between 8% and 9%. And then in Orlando and Jacksonville, I think it’s between 3% and 3.5%. Palm beach, not as much, but honestly those sites, just the traffic is way down at those sites.

Ron DeSantis: (28:38)
So we’re going to continue to offer that. We’ve sent a lot of the serological tests to the different hospital systems who’ve requested it. They can do their physicians and their nurses and other healthcare professionals, which is very good, but we’re also sending thousands of tests as requested to each county to do serological, seroprevalence studies. So I know Broward asked early, so they have that lined up. They’re going to work with I think Nova down there to do something, but we’re working with University of Florida, all these universities to be able to do seroprevalence studies.

Ron DeSantis: (29:11)
If you look at the seroprevalence, clearly many, many more people have the antibodies and have actually tested positive. That means that the disease is both more widespread than I think people thought in like January, February, but it also means it’s less lethal in terms of hospitalizations and less lethal, obviously in terms of fatalities. And so that’s important to know when you’re talking about the state of Florida. I’m going to have John and them ask… why don’t you come up and answer kind of some of these technical questions about kind of the system, outstanding claims and because I think they’re going to have a lot. [inaudible 00:29:53].

Speaker 4: (30:00)
… One who said that it was the Africans who were to blame.

Speaker 5: (30:05)
He’ll be able to answer your questions [crosstalk 00:30:04]-

Speaker 4: (30:06)
But he’s going to answer questions based on what the governor said?

Speaker 5: (30:07)
The secretary’s going to-

Speaker 4: (30:07)

Speaker 5: (30:07)
… be able to answer the question-

Speaker 4: (30:09)
Well, you know what? The governor’s a Yale lawyer, I thought he could answer his own questions.

Speaker 6: (30:14)
Secretary [inaudible 00:30:14]. One of the main issues that we seem to be hearing is from people who have received the first payment, but they’ve not received back payments. In fact, that seems to be the overwhelming response we’re getting from people right now. How is that being handled?

Secretary: (30:27)
That is if they change their claim date. Is that retroactively, or you say they received one payment that they-

Speaker 6: (30:34)
Yeah, they got their first payment, but they applied months ago.

Secretary: (30:37)
So, unfortunately, we would have to look at the individual claim. That’s the first time I’ve heard that concern.

Speaker 7: (30:45)
Mr. Secretary, I think one of the things when you look at the verification queue, one of the largest numbers in there has been employers not answering. And then, over the weekend that number dropped by about 90%. What happened there? Did employers start answering?

Secretary: (31:02)
So, that queue has been dropping by about 30,000 a day over the last week. We mobilized 600 folks at the Department of Revenue. Department of Revenue has been a great partner and they help us validate those employer-employee issues. We still have a large adjudication number, that’s still ineligible, so we still have to work through those employer-employee disputes.

Speaker 8: (31:25)
Secretary, I was talking to a applicant just today, and her issue is one of those big issues that we’ve mentioned in the PowerPoint. She needs to verify her identity, and she’s struggling with that because she was told to call a number and she calls that number and she gets nothing, not even an ability to leave a message. And so, she’s like, “Well, two minutes in front of a person would solve my problem and get my claim processed.” So, what is the information that you’re giving to those people?

Secretary: (31:53)
Yeah, and I feel very bad because the technology is stable, people can file an application. As the Governor indicated, we can process a full, accurate complaint relatively quickly. For the folks that are stuck because they either did not provide a complete claim or it wasn’t accurate, we have a large number that we have to touch manually. Another partnership we did with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is we’re standing up and it’ll be in the next couple of days, a identity verification tool where people… It’s 2020, people should be able to go online and verify their identity. And so, that’ll get stood up hopefully in the next three or four days. I think they’re testing that right now, and that hopefully will clear a relatively large backlog.

Speaker 9: (32:42)
I have a series questions about the data that you all put up there.

Secretary: (32:45)

Speaker 9: (32:46)
In regards to the 900,000 that you were talking about, I want to make sure that we’re comparing apples and oranges here. When you say the 99%, are you talking about people who are only eligible for the regular State RA and not talking about people who otherwise would be eligible for the two other forms of payments that were authorized by Congress? So, when you say 99% of claimants, you’re saying 99% of claimants who qualify for regular state unemployment?

Secretary: (33:12)
I don’t know the answer to that question exactly. I think I know the answer, but I will have to get back to you on that one.

Speaker 9: (33:19)
Well, then another followup question is, I did ask about in March and the applications and whether or not… Because what we have heard from a lot of people is they have … In fact, you all urged people to reapply in April.

Secretary: (33:29)
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 9: (33:29)
So, there must have been a reason why you all felt that people needed to reapply in April and so I’m asking, did somehow [crosstalk 00:33:35] lost?

Secretary: (33:35)
So, I’m not aware of us asking anybody to reapply. I’ve only been here since April 16th, so I can only tell you since I’ve been involved. There is-

Speaker 9: (33:48)
[inaudible 00:33:48] graphic that said anybody who had applied before April 4th [crosstalk 00:33:50]-

Secretary: (33:50)

Speaker 9: (33:50)
… to apply again.

Secretary: (33:51)
As you know, there’s about 400,000 folks that are ineligible. We’re going back through that queue and trying to find people the benefits that they’re eligible for. At the end of the day, there’s going to be a large pool of folks who are just not eligible for a variety of reasons.

Speaker 6: (34:06)
What about the investigation into the adjudication process [inaudible 00:34:06] there’s a big backlog, what’s the scope of that right now?

Secretary: (34:14)
It’s tens of thousands and we’re going to have to work through it. We’ve got a large adjudication team. There’s a bunch of folks in training and they’re just going to have to work through over and over and over again.

Speaker 6: (34:25)
What about the fraudulent claims the governor mentioned? Do you know how many claims [inaudible 00:34:29] you guys have deemed fraudulent or you forwarded to investigation?

Secretary: (34:32)
So, there is a fraud queue that tracks a number of different things. There are actually 39 different tests of fraud. A simple one is IP addresses. Is someone filing a claim from somewhere else? Another one is if multiple people who don’t have the same name are sharing bank accounts. So, there are a number of tests. Those have to be evaluated by hand.

Speaker 6: (35:04)
[inaudible 00:35:04] seemed like maybe a coordinated effort. There was a New York Times story about this, is Florida [inaudible 00:35:09] too?

Secretary: (35:12)
I’m sure that there have been attempts. We make every effort to verify every single claim.

Speaker 5: (35:18)
Last question.

Speaker 10: (35:20)
[inaudible 00:35:20] the claimant who called 108 times in a single day and was never able to speak with somebody on the phone. What is the average wait time to talk to a real person to try to figure out these issues? Is that something that you guys are keeping track of?

Secretary: (35:34)
Yeah, we know all of those statistics. So, first of all, it depends on the subject matter that they’re calling about. I would tell people don’t call 108 times. The longest hold time is for the [inaudible 00:35:46] claims specific information and the whole time yesterday for that, and it’s really long, it was an hour and 39 minutes. It’s really long, and that’s the reason why we’ve scaled up from 40 people answering the phone to 6,000. And we have hundreds of people that are in different stages of training so that we can get those wait times down. Yesterday, we had a million phone calls. We’ve had 15 million phone calls since March 15th. We haven’t gotten to most of those. Most of the people are hanging up. It’s upsetting to me, as it is upsetting to the callers. So, I would just say the best time to call, and maybe after a lot of people hear it today it won’t be, the late afternoon, but be prepared to sit on the phone for about an hour and a half.

Speaker 6: (36:29)
When are you [inaudible 00:36:31] set up?

Secretary: (36:32)
Early next week.

Speaker 5: (36:33)
Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

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