Gov. Kelly announces changes to KDOL, progress on energy crisis

(AP Photo/John Hanna)
(AP Photo/John Hanna)(John Hanna | AP)
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 10:26 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Gov. Laura Kelly announced Wednesday the Dept. of Labor will be adding 500 trained employees for their call centers.

She said the 500 surge workers, who are customer service representatives, will be able to offer higher service than general call center workers. She expects the first 75 worker to be on the job Monday.

She compared the call center struggles to that of the great recession in 2008. But have made strides since then having the ability to take more than 2,500 calls at once now.

“The staff of the Department of Labor is working around the clock to resolve the payment and support issues so that we can make this all better,” she said.

She said to not use the auto-dialers when calling into KDOL as they do not work with their system. According to Kelly, in one day in February, 54 callers were responsible for more than 43,000 calls because of it.

“So please, support your fellow Kansans by refraining from using those auto-dialers it doesn’t help you it just hurts other people,” she said.

Kelly acknowledged the impact of delays Kansans are facing. She said she will use her platform to share as much information as she can as often as she can to ensure all unemployed Kansans get the information needed to troubleshoot potential issues in contacting KDOL.

“I know it’s been slow and I apologize for that it’s just been a combination of forces including the feds delay of getting that extension passed and clearly, our technology issues that continue to plague us to this day,” she said.

Gov. Kelly said KDOL will also undergo another server upgrade on March 12 and 13. She said the Department will also extend its call hours beginning this weekend: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - KDOL is hiring 500 new “surge” employees through a third party to help with unemployment calls and claims--the first 75 will start Monday.

Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas has seen 73 new deaths related to COVID-19 and 807 new positive cases. She said this brings the state’s total to 295,109 positive cases, 9,355 hospitalizations and 4,816 deaths.

According to Gov. Kelly, Kansas can expect its first shipment of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses to arrive in the week of March 8. She said the state is expecting 23,000 doses of the J&J vaccine, which will join the 130,000 Moderna and Pfizer doses coming to the state. She said doses will also be coming through the Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers and Pharmacy programs.

Gov. Kelly said the state should see an increase in doses given through FQHC and Pharmacy program sites with the addition of the J&J dose. She said the J&J vaccine is clinically proven to be highly effective against the risk of serious illness or death related to COVID-19. She said the new vaccine requires only one dose, which will make it easier to distribute and store.

According to Gov. Kelly, the Kansas Department of Labor continues to see high call volumes, which makes it difficult for claimants to reach the agency for assistance. She said KDOL’s current system supports about 2,500 calls, which is not enough to support every claimant in the state.

In order to deal with the call volume issues, Gov. Kelly said KDOL will add 500 new surge staff members, which will aid call center representatives. She said 75 new staff members will be deployed on Monday and the Department will continue to add staff on a rolling basis until it adds 500 new employees to its current 450.

Gov. Kelly said KDOL will also undergo another server upgrade on March 12 and 13. She said the Department will also extend its call hours beginning this weekend: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.

Gov. Kelly has asked that Kansans refrain from using auto-dialers to call the KDOL unemployment benefits system. She said on Friday alone, 54 sole callers were responsible for over 43,000 calls. She said this hinders the Department’s ability to answer phone calls from those that truly need to talk to a representative.

According to Gov. Kelly, the full extent of the recent spikes in energy usage remain unknown, however, she said she does know that it will affect many Kansans. She said she is currently taking proactive steps and considering every tool at her disposal to protect Kansans. She said in February, she joined the KCC in asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate the causes of the energy shortage.

Gov. Kelly said she has asked her team to meet with effective stakeholders and that it is working with partners on every level to ensure Kansans are safe from price surges. She said her team is communicating and working to identify the full scope of the issue.

According to Gov. Kelly, the House Financial and Rural Development Committee met on Wednesday to approve a loan program for state utilities. She said she expects to sign the legislation before she leaves the statehouse on Wednesday. She also said she is working with the State Treasurer to ensure that funds are administered immediately.

March 3, 10:26 a.m.

Gov. Kelly to host COVID-19 update

Governor Laura Kelly will host a COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

Governor Laura Kelly says she will host a COVID-19 update on Wednesday, March 3, at 4 p.m.

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