TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Dis-CONNECTed, yet again!
Out-of-work Floridians found themselves unable to access the state’s unemployment site heading into the holiday weekend. For many, it felt uncomfortably similar to the malfunctions the site suffered when the pandemic began.
That includes Russ Burdette. After the Disney employee was furloughed from the happiest place on earth in late March, he now spends some of his days in a far more aggravating spot: the CONNECT “virtual” waiting room.
“My nerves were through the roof yesterday,” he told 8 On Your Side’s Victoria Price by Zoom Friday. “I’ve never wanted to throw my laptop before and yesterday was probably the first time I’ve wanted to do that.”
Burdette logged on to try and claim his weekly benefits only to wait hours to ultimately get kicked out of the system. At one point, he even captured the malfunction on video as he clicked submit to only be sent back to the start.
“Yesterday was probably the biggest hangup I’ve had with the system,” he said.
Burdette is one of countless 8 On Your Side viewers who reached out about the problem.
The Department of Economic Opportunity acknowledged issues with the site in a tweet Thursday night but did not provide an explanation, even when we followed up.
The crashing site brought back bad memories of the full-fledged meltdown CONNECT suffered at the start of the pandemic. Back then it couldn’t handle the high volume, built to only withstand a thousand users at a time.
Its capacity is now 80,000 after Governor Ron DeSantis pledged $100 million to support the system that already cost more than $70 million to create.
It’s unclear why CONNECT is crashing now but Burdette has his guess: a surge in new applications following a surge of COVID cases.
“These people who are getting laid off again are now going back in and it is an extra process to re-file,” he postulated.
There’s also the fact that July 1 ushered in a new quarter, requiring some people to submit additional unemployment applications to try and re-secure their benefits.
Typically CONNECT goes offline nights and weekends in order to process claims. However, the DEO says it will be available this Sunday for those who need to access it.
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