GRAND FORKS — Millions of Americans have applied for jobless benefits in recent weeks as businesses close to limit the spread of coronavirus.
But for Bradley Peterson, an employee at the Grand Forks Perkins who lost his job when the restaurant temporarily shut down, connecting with resources has been a struggle without a computer or access to the internet.
"I can't really talk to a human or anything," he said, explaining his trouble reaching the state unemployment hotline due to the large volume of calls. "They can't talk to anybody to tell them what's going on."
Peterson said he will likely have a job once Perkins reopens, though he's worried about how he's going to pay his bills and stay healthy in the coming weeks or months.
With public libraries closed and COVID-19-wary friends unwilling to lend their laptops, Peterson has not found a way to access online unemployment resources.
"Everybody's kind of reluctant," he said. "Even so, I don't have wifi or anything, so I would have to go to a cafe or a place like that, and they're all closed ... it makes it really difficult."
Although Job Service North Dakota offers an unemployment hotline with representatives available to guide applicants through the process, Peterson said long wait times have made it hard for him to reach help.
"I just kept going in circles on the phone, so I didn't know how to do it," he said. "I'm sure there are people out there just like me that just can't seem to get it done and don't know what to do or where to go."