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Governor Launches Plan To Get Unemployment Benefits To Independent Contractors During Coronavirus Pandemic

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Governor Gavin Newsom says the state is dealing with an unprecedented number of unemployment claims across the state.

But many of those out of a job because of the coronavirus pandemic have not seen a dime of unemployment yet.

CBS13 told you about the complaints- many people who are now jobless have said they cant through to EDD call centers. Now the governor is adding more staff and hours. He's rolling out a "one-stop-shop" program so 2.7 million Californians will finally see that money.

READ: Coronavirus Unemployment: EDD Clarifies Confusing Question — 'No, You Don't Have To Lie'

Missy Bravo is a barber in Sacramento and hasn't been working since early March.

"If we can't be within six feet, I can't really cut your hair," she said.

She registered as a private contractor last year and was told she wouldn't be able to file for unemployment but couldn't work either.

"We don't have any form of unemployment right now, but we're also not allowed to work," she said.

As California processes one million unemployment claims each week, Newsom says there are 1.5 million self-employed Californians that are also deserving of direct assistance.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus Unemployment: CBS13 Answering Frequently Asked Questions

The program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, promises to provide gig workers and private contractors, like Bravo, benefits.

"If we don't have to worry about feeding our kids, that's enough for now," said Bravo.

The governor says that money is retroactive, so those contractors who were unable to work because of the coronavirus will get money to cover their lost wages from the time they first stopped working.

"We are organizing a very deliberative process in real-time to set up our PUA system, where we can turn around checks in 24-48 hours," said Governor Newsom.

As part of this executive order, Newsom also plans to give cash to undocumented immigrants. The immigrant disaster relief fund, $125 million dollars, will come from a mix of taxpayer dollars and charitable donations.

"All of us are in this together and we have a responsibility, and even if there's gaps we can help begin to fill them," he said.

PUA will be active as of April 28th. The EDD's call center hours are being expanded to seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to field those unanswered questions.

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