Hawaii has paid out $21.6 million in unemployment insurance thus far in the month of April, Scott Murakami, the director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said at a press conference Wednesday.

As Hawaii tries to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has received more than 237,000 applications for unemployment insurance since March 1. Murakami said last week the state paid out $11.2 million in benefits, a 230% increase over the previous year. On Monday and Tuesday this week, the state paid out $10.5 million in claims.

Murakami said the state has set up three new email addresses to help people filing claims. People who want to backdate their unemployment insurance claims should email dlir.ui.backdate@hawaii.gov. Anyone who has been disqualified from unemployment insurance and has questions can email dlir.ui.disqualified@hawaii.gov. And people who need interpreter services can email dlir.ui.languageassistance@hawaii.gov.

The state also created a new webpage with instructions on how to file a claim: http://labor.hawaii.gov/blog/main/covid-19-how-to-obtain-unemployment-ins-benefits/.

Another new website also provides applicants updates on the status of their claims: https://huiclaims2020.hawaii.gov/status. Murakami said 700 to 800 people Wednesday were visiting the site.

If you are applying for unemployment in Hawaii and want to share your story in Civil Beat, email anita@civilbeat.com.

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