JACKSONVILLE (CBSMiami/NSF) – First-time unemployment claims this week appear headed toward a record.

At a briefing in Jacksonville, Gov. Ron DeSantis said 225,755 initial claims had been filed this week.

“I think it took us a year or certainly many months to reach this level of claims during the great recession,” DeSantis said. “So, this is a shock like we’ve never seen before. So, we’re shifting as many resources to this as we can to meet this real crushing demand.”

The U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday estimated that 169,885 jobless claims had been filed in Florida during the week ending April 4, after a record 228,484 claims during the prior week.

The numbers for the current week, which runs through Saturday, came as the state took steps to shore up the overwhelmed CONNECT online unemployment system. Those steps include increasing the server capacity, offering paper applications and shifting state employees and hiring hundreds of others to field calls and process the massive backload of claims coming in due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think the things we’ve done have been positive, but if there are more things to do, you know I want to do it,” DeSantis said.

He said federal stimulus dollars, which will increase unemployment benefits, should start to arrive soon.

“You’re not going to live high on the hog on that, but for people who have lost their jobs, to be able to get that, that I think can make a big difference when you’re talking about kids, when you’re talking about food, and you’re talking about all the necessities of life,” DeSantis said.

The Department of Labor report indicates the Florida numbers have been driven by layoffs in a variety of sectors, as businesses shut down or scaled back amid social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by the coronavirus.

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