Jobless claims soar as Iowa closes more retail businesses

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Kim Reynolds is ordering the closure of more nonessential businesses in Iowa to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Reynolds announced Thursday that she had expanded an earlier closure order to include stores selling furniture, books, clothing, shoes, jewelry and other items.

The business closures already included bars, dine-in restaurants, theaters, casinos and gyms and will last until at least April 7. Schools will remain closed at least until April 13.

Reynolds also ordered dentists to halt all but emergency work and directed hospitals not to perform any nonessential surgeries and procedures.

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Iowa residents filed more than 41,000 claims for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus outbreak forced many workers to lose jobs and stay home.

The Department of Labor reported Thursday that nationwide, claims for jobless benefits surged to a record 3.3 million in the week that ended March 21.

The numbers show that in Iowa, initial claims zoomed past 41,000. That was up from 2,229 reported in the state the week before.

Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said earlier this week that the state was receiving a staggering number of claims. 

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