Question: The unemployment boss was on TV Tuesday saying they will call back people who can’t get through to the call center. But how can they call you back if you couldn’t get through in the first place?
Answer: The phone system for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ call center automatically logs incoming numbers, whether the calls are answered or not, said department spokesman Bill Kunstman.
The number of callers who can’t get through at all — those who have been told to try again later because of high call volume — is expected to fall now that the DLIR is using a new method to block auto-dialers that rapidly repeat call attempts and can overwhelm the system.
The changes include a voice-activated routing system that requires the caller to verbalize which service they need; no longer can a caller “press 1,” for example. Listen carefully to the initial greeting and respond accordingly. When we checked the system Thursday, we got through on our first try. The options were:
>> Say 1 for general information about regular unemployment, PEUC, EB20 or FPUC.
>> Say 2 for PUA information.
>> Say 3 if you are an employer calling about employer-related matters.
>> Say 4 to report fraud or identity theft.
>> Say repeat to repeat the options
The local numbers for the call center are 762-5751 and 762-5752. The toll-free numbers are 833-901-2272 or 833-901-2275.
Kunstman also provided these tips for claimants trying to reach the DLIR:
>> Unblock your phone; blocked numbers cannot be added to the callback list.
>> Call from the phone number associated with your unemployment account.
>> Call only the call center. Use the local numbers if your phone service doesn’t allow you to reach the toll-free numbers.
>> Continue to call during regular business hours if you don’t receive a call back.
Kokua Line has heard from many readers who want the state to greatly broaden the pool of people eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination in Hawaii, primarily by lowering the age requirement to 65 or even younger (as of Monday the age requirement will be 70). We’ve also heard from many older kupuna, or their caregivers, about how the state can improve vaccine access for this age group (75 and up), who are already eligible, but may not be able to easily access a vaccination site.
AARP Hawaii, the advocacy group for older people, is hearing from these folks too, and has devised an online questionnaire for Hawaii residents 50 and older to share their experiences and opinions about the COVID-19 vaccine process in Hawaii. You don’t have to be an AARP member to fill out the questionnaire.
Readers interested in sharing their thoughts can find more information, including a link to the questionnaire, at states.aarp.org/hawaii/. Results will be gathered through Monday morning and key findings will be shared with policymakers in Hawaii, as well as posted on AARP Hawaii’s website, according to a news release from the nonprofit organization.
Among other things, the questionnaire asks whether people have tried to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, how the process went, whether they have been vaccinated and whether they are satisfied with how Hawaii’s Department of Health is balancing the need to vaccinate kupuna, essential workers and the general public.
As for information about where eligible people can schedule vaccination appointments, find that on the DOH website, at hawaii covid19.com/vaccine.
Mahalo to all those who slowed down on King Street near University Avenue so this kupuna could get past all the many tents and other items on the sidewalk. I had to walk in the street! — A reader
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