Unemployed Texans cannot use COVID-19 as a reason to avoid work search

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In weeks, unemployed Texans will have to do work search activities, and COVID-19 cannot be used as an exemption.

The work search requirement resumes Nov. 1. It was an announcement that hit Lori Easthom hard.

"I was a little taken back," Easthom recalled. "I wasn't expecting it to happen so soon."

SEE ALSO: Unemployed Texans will be required to search for work next month to keep benefits

Easthom is worried about looking for work because her husband is high-risk during the pandemic due to his age, liver transplant, and immune problems.

"This could be life or death for him," Easthom explained. "I really wish they would give some consideration to those of us that are in this situation. I feel like we need a little bit more time."

The state paused the requirement in March. It planned to reinstate the requirement in June, but rising Coronavirus cases caused Texas Workforce Commission to put a pause on it.

During the summer, the state listed exemptions for people to avoid the requirement, including if you were at high-risk for COVID-19, lived with someone who is, or couldn't find childcare.

As the state reopens further this fall, TWC said it was time to reinstate the requirement. Although we're still in a pandemic, the state said there are no exemptions because of COVID-19.

"People who cannot return to work because they are at high risk, have COVID-19, are quarantined, or do not have childcare, can participate in work search activities from home," TWC spokesperson Cisco Gamez explained.

Here are some ways to meet the requirement without leaving your house:

  • Create a reemployment plan
  • Get training
  • Get help on your resume
  • Participate in virtual networking events


"There is a chance they may be able to find employment that they can do from home, and the same applies for someone who does not have childcare at this time," Gamez said.

If unemployed Texans don't do three activities a week, they risk losing benefits.

Easthom said she'll find a way to do virtual activities because she can't afford to lose the money.

SEE ALSO: ABC13's virtual job fair is helping Texans get back to work

"We are very dependent right now. If I lost (unemployment) then we would most likely become homeless," Easthom said.

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