Florida nurse of 3 decades denied unemployment during COVID-19 crisis

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DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) — Karen Cumberland knew at an early age that she enjoyed working hard and taking care of others.

The Florida resident has raised three successful children and is the proud grandmother of three grandchildren. As a registered nurse for three decades, she has made a difference in countless lives with her passion and focus on her patients.

Then COVID-19 hit and changed everything. For the first time, Cumberland found herself out of work.

Her job as an outpatient nurse at a surgery center was no longer needed since surgeries were put on hold during the coronavirus outbreak on Feb. 27.

She began the frustrating process of applying for unemployment, describing the system as beyond bad and beyond broken.

“They know there’s a problem,” she said. “They know how bad it is. Don’t keep telling us it’s being fixed.”

Cumberland says she’s spent her days online, often seven and eight hours at a time, only to be sometimes kicked out of the system, then having to start all over again.

She even spent her stimulus money on a new laptop to better navigate the process, only to be told she was “denied” and “ineligible” in mid-March.

“I’ve paid taxes my whole life, I’ve worked my whole life. Why are some people applying and getting money right away and then there are people like me who have applied twice and not gotten anything, and mine still says pending. Why?” she asked.

“I have done nothing wrong, it’s not my fault I don’t have a job. It’s ridiculous.”

WFLA has reached out to the state unemployment office and the office of Congressman Charlie Crist for answers on Cumberland’s case.

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