Massachusetts officials are scrambling to make collecting unemployment benefits easier as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus hits the state's economy.
On Monday, nearly 20,000 people filed unemployment claims, a spike that followed the state mandated that all restaurants and bars close to dine-in customers.
Claims were expected to increase again after Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday ordered all early education centers and family child care providers in Massachusetts to close by Monday.
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The state has moved to make it easier to collect unemployment benefits by waving the one-week waiting period usually needed in between filing and receiving unemployment benefits.
The state has also delayed the collection of meals, sales and occupancy taxes for the smaller businesses.
"This important change will ensure that we can get much needed unemployment insurance for those who have been impacted by COVID-19," Baker said in a news conference Wednesday.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Massachusetts is up to 256, public health officials said Wednesday, a jump from 218 just a day earlier.
Massachusetts is one of the states in the U.S. with the most coronavirus cases in the country so far. While no one has died from the virus locally, more than 100 people have died nationwide. And on Wednesday, Connecticut reported New England's first coronavirus death.