PUA program still moving forward despite possible COVID case

The processing of PUA unemployment claims at GDOL continues. (PNC file photo)

Guam Department of Labor director Dave Dell’Isola says the PUA program is still moving forward even after a possible brush with COVID-19.

Dell’Isola told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo that they’re still waiting on the results of a second covid test that was given to an employee.

The employee works at the American Job Center which was temporarily closed down.

The employee received a COVID vaccine last Monday and, after starting to show symptoms, went to get tested on Wednesday.

The results came back positive and they got retested on Friday.

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The 311 call center as well as the auditing and adjudication operations for unemployment benefits are located at the American Job Center.

About 40 other workers are employed at the American Job Center all of whom have been tested as well.

The 311 center was temporarily closed down although Dell’Isola said that PUA operations, including the PUA hotline, are still running smoothly.

He said that PUA operations were compartmentalized from the beginning to avoid having to shut down completely in the event of a COVID infection among the staff.

“So our protective measures seem to be doing well for now. Of course, you can never plan for everything perfectly. But we’re hoping everything still…that it’ll be a false positive. The last report showed that everything is doing good. No problems. So I hope it’s symptoms from the vaccine and not an actual positive because we won’t know of course until we get the results from Friday’s test,” Dell’Isola said.

In other GDOL news, Dell’Isola said that some of the job training programs that will receive pandemic-related federal funding have been stood up, with more soon to follow.

He’s encouraging people to sign up early since social distancing requirements mean class sizes will be limited.

“There are still huge opportunities for the island. That’s what I’m trying to get and promote right now because time is ticking very quickly, when September comes, there’s going to be a whole long line, and I don’t want to do an ‘I told you so’,” Dell’Isola said.

He added: “I’m willing to pay for all of those who are unemployed because of the COVID. You could get qualified for those things and now’s the time to get qualified…get signed up for a class..and then if it’s not for two or three months you could work part-time. You’ve gotta start planning. Do a short-term plan for the next six months.”