State of Texas: TWC contractor reveals call center problems; Senate candidates prepare for debate

AUSTIN (Nexstar) – Imagine showing up to a job where you know that almost 75% of what you do will fail someone. What if a fireman failed to help someone in three out of four fire calls? What if a police officer failed to help clear three out of four 911 calls?

Day, after day.

That’s what a contractor helping field calls for the Texas Workforce Commission told us was going on inside some of the agency’s call centers. The contractor, who asked to not be identified in this report, told KXAN the problem facing nearly every caller is that their call may be answered by people who have no way to help Texans calling for help with their unemployment problems.

This worker said they’re unable to help about three-quarters of the people who call with unemployment problems.

Since the pandemic hit in mid-March, hundreds of unemployed Texans wrote to us, all telling the same story: thousands of calls to the TWC’s lone toll-free number are never answered. The few who have connected are likely to find themselves on the line with one of 1,600 contracted customer service representatives.

At first, they think their prayers are answered and the weeks – sometimes months – of waiting for their unemployment benefits is over.

RELATED: Planning to appeal a TWC decision, prepare for 18-week wait

Then, the contractor reads from the script they use when they answer a call: “I am limited to the types of questions I can answer.”

That’s led to many unemployed Texans hitting a dead-end, following a series of calls to the TWC, and never finding help.

In April, the bosses inside the TWC were scrambling. As state and local stay-at-home orders began locking Texans down in mid-March, millions lost their jobs and headed straight for the unemployment

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Nursing homes prepare for indoor visits during coronavirus pandemic

Maryland nursing homes and assisted living facilities are gearing up for indoor family visits after Gov. Larry Hogan lifted the ban on indoor visitors on Thursday.

a bedroom with a bed and a chair in a room: Bedroom in a nursing home, bed, walker

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Bedroom in a nursing home, bed, walker

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Saint Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing is planning to open its doors to family members next week.

That will happen following strict guidelines set up by the federal government and the state of Maryland. The staff and families seem excited for the reopening.

With messages like “spreading kindness not germs,” Saint Elizabeth’s nursing center is preparing for indoor family visits.

“For us, our visits will be in our neighborhoods, our units,” Aileen McShea Tinney, of Catholic Charities senior services, said.

Hogan announced the restart.

“Indoor visitation can begin again in nursing homes not experiencing outbreaks and have not experienced new positive cases in the last 14 days,” the governor said.

Lori Barnard expressed her joy now that she can go inside a Mount Airy nursing home and see her 94-year-old grandmother Louise.

“I cried. I was so excited,” Barnard said.

Saint Elizabeth’s nursing center will allow 45-minute visits.

“Clean the space where visits happened so we can welcome the next family in,” McShea Tinney said.

While anticipating visits, staff members at nursing homes are still trying to be extremely careful.

“Our facility had cases, had deaths, no one wants to go back in that direction,” McShea Tinney said.

Under federal and state guidelines:

  • Nursing homes must schedule visits that will take place in specific, designated areas.
  • Visitors must wear masks and may be required to wear other personal protective equipment.
  • The facilities must limit the number of visitors per resident and number of
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