SAN DIEGO — There has been a huge spike in the number of people filing for unemployment across the country and here in California. People are losing their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is, of course, a very unusual time," said Nancy Sasaki, CEO of United Way of San Diego. "People who were gainfully employed a month ago are finding themselves in a situation where they could be fearing for their ability to stay in their homes."

The United Way of San Diego County just launched its new San Diego Worker Assistance Initiative. The goal of the fund is to help low-income people who've lost their jobs or had their hours cut, make ends meet.

Anyone who was let go as of March 1 may qualify for help with their bills. Sasaki says since just last week, they've received more than 2,000 applications.

"We'll be able to vet those that need the fund the most, and those that have other resources that they might be able to access," she said.

"It's probably going to be 10-15 days before they hear from us but we will get back to them as soon as we can, and help them as much as we can," she added.

Unemployed workers can also file an unemployment claim with the state of California. 

What you'll need:

  • Last employer information including company name, supervisor’s name, address (mailing and physical location) and phone number
  • Last date worked and the reason you are no longer working
  • Gross earnings in the last week you worked, beginning with Sunday and ending with your last day of work
  • Information on all employers you worked for during the past 18 months, including name, address (mailing and physical location), the dates of employment, gross wages earned, hours worked per week, hourly rate of pay, and the reason you are no longer working.
  • Notice to Federal Employees About Unemployment Insurance, Standard Form 8 (former federal employees only)
  • DD 214 Member 4 copy (ex-military only)
  • Citizenship status, and, if you are not a U.S. citizen, information from your employment authorization document

Once you've filed that claim, you'll get information mailed to you. Make sure you respond immediately to avoid delays.

It could take at least a few weeks to get a response.

If you're wondering what you can do to help people who are having a tough time paying their bills, you can donate to the San Diego Covid-19 Community Response Fund. It's a coalition of philanthropy, government and business partners who give funds to different local organizations like the United Way of San Diego County. 

All of the money remains here in San Diego.

Hosted and administered by The San Diego Foundation in collaboration with County Board of Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, the co-chair of the County's COVID-19 subcommittee, and seeded with $1 million from San Diego Gas & Electric and $300,000 from The San Diego Foundation, the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund will receive donations and make emergency grants to nonprofit organizations that have deep roots and strong experience supporting impacted communities, particularly those that are disproportionately affected by this global pandemic and its economic consequences.

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BACKGROUND: 

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing. 

Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 

  • Stay home when you are sick. 

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. 

The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask.