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Florida unemployment protester kicked out of coronavirus testing site ahead of DeSantis’ Sarasota visit

Florida Unemployment

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A woman holding a sign criticizing Florida’s unemployment system was kicked out of a coronavirus testing site in Sarasota during the governor’s visit on Tuesday.

Barbara Ellis showed up to the testing site at University Town Center shortly before the governor arrived to hold a news conference. Ellis was holding a homemade sign asking for help on unemployment.

“Filed unemployment 3-17-2020. Still no check,” her sign read.

8 On Your Side’s Victoria Price spoke with her shortly before the governor’s team asked Ellis to leave the testing site.

During the governor’s news conference, we asked the governor why she was removed.

“You’re just telling me of someone not here. We can get the information and we’re happy to look at it,” DeSantis said. “I wasn’t involved in moving – removing anybody. So we’re happy to work…we’ll get an answer today.”

8 On Your Side also asked DeSantis what he would say to people like Ellis who are struggling with the unemployment system and the Department of Economic Opportunity.

“Our DEO, what they do is when they see things – someone maybe in a news article or even on social media – they are actively researching and figuring out, OK is this person caught up? Is there a problem or whatnot,” DeSantis said. “They’ve been doing that pretty proactively. What they have found is most of those folks have not completed the application – either didn’t have a social security number or not eligible because they didn’t have a job recently. But those are things that if you get in touch with DEO, we can help. And there are some other forms of relief for people who don’t qualify for unemployment compensation.”

Florida’s unemployment system has been plagued with issues since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. DeSantis has called for an investigation into the system, saying it was “in tatters” when he inherited it.


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