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Coronavirus in Oklahoma: OESC adds capacity to handle heavy volume of claims

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The state agency responsible for administering Oklahoma’s unemployment insurance program continued to bolster its operations last week as it dealt with an ongoing heavy demand for its services.

On Tuesday, Robin Roberson, the agency's executive director, likely will describe those efforts in detail as she participates in a telephonic town hall meeting that U.S. Sen. James Lankford plans to hold with constituents at 1:30 p.m.

Officials said the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission launched a redesigned landing page at oesc.ok.gov Friday as it concluded efforts to boost the site’s bandwidth capacity in a bid to boost responsiveness.

Plus, it introduced a chat bot to the site that users can use as a resource to get answers to general questions they have about unemployment insurance compensation and hosted a webinar Friday that thousands of Oklahomans participated in, many of whom had questions about how the the program works.

Cyndi Phillips, the commission’s chief of staff, said 20,317 people attended the webinar, with 12,704 of those taking part as call-in participants and the remainder online.

Phillips said Friday the commission had increased its number of “tier one” service agents capable of handling calls related to initial claims to 214, and hoped that number would double by the end of this week.

Phillips also said additional training continues to increase the numbers of service agents who can handle more detailed issues related to claims.

An unofficial estimate released Monday based on claims filed online and over the phone shows that about 50,000 Oklahomans filed initial claims for unemployment insurance compensation last week.

The official count won’t be released until Thursday, when the U.S. Department of Labor publishes numbers for each state and territory in the nation.

As for Tuesday's call, officials said Monday that Lankford and Roberson also plan to discuss the role the agency is playing as it disburses aid to idled workers that was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act approved by Congress and signed into law in March.

Oklahomans who wish to participate in the call are asked to register online. Lankford also released several documents Oklahomans can review to get answers to the most common coronavirus and CARES Act questions his office has received, officials said.

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Jack Money

Jack Money has worked for The Oklahoman for more than 20 years. During that time, he has worked for the paper’s city, state, metro and business news desks, including serving for a while as an assistant city editor. Money has won state and regional... Read more ›

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