DALLAS - The state of Texas will to start asking everyone receiving unemployment to begin looking for work in July.
Those in high-risk health categories are concerned as the number of cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continues to hit new peaks daily.
The Texas Workforce Commission said people on unemployment will need to apply for three jobs a week beginning July 6 and will need to be able to accept a job if it is offered, or their benefits will end.
Heather Bohannan says she's missed going to work over the past three months.
“I was working at Corner Bakery and they actually put us on furlough,” Bohannan said.
But she's worried about getting sick if she goes back to the food service industry. She has asthma and wearing the mask required by her employer makes her feel faint.
“And you're gasping for air and you can't even grab that air,” Bohannan said.
But the state now wants people like Bohannan to show they are applying for jobs virtually.
Laurie Larrea, president of the non-profit Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas that helps connect job seekers with work, says people can filter the jobs they apply for to be ones that can be done from home.
“And that's why upskilling is the key. And there will be long and short term, the state will be launching a couple of initiatives that will be extremely robust and available and will include a lot of tech skill so that people can bring up their skill,” Larrea said.
Larrea acknowledges her own organization does not feel it is safe to reopen their physical offices.
“Yes, we were going to open in a couple of weeks but there are new outbreaks, new people infected,” Larrea said.
Larrea says her employees are working remotely to answer phone calls and help people navigate looking for work online -- even if they only have a smart phone.
SMU economist Mike Davis says it is difficult to find the right balance between getting people back to work and keeping people who are at higher risk of serious illness safe.
“So we're kind of walking this tightrope. We don't want people just to be cashing checks and not doing any work when they could be doing work. But we don't want to put people at risk,” Davis said.
Larrea says she is seeing more and more companies add jobs that can be done remotely. Among the industries: career schools, colleges and contact tracing jobs.