By Alecia Reid

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware are beginning to pay out a record number of COVID-19 unemployment claims.

“It is definitely a record and it is way higher than anything we’ve ever seen before,” said benefits policy director Susan Dickinson.

Since March 15, the unemployment claims in Philadelphia have surpassed the 1 million mark. To put things in perspective, it was 40,000 in the three weeks prior.

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The city is now all hands on deck.

As of Monday, payments have been issued to about 540,000 people.

“We are continuing to work as diligently as possible to get the other half-million folks their benefits,” Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said.

Additional staff is being added from different departments.

“We’re going to add at least 100 new unemployment comp staff,” Oleksiak said.

And everyone is present.

“Approximately 600 staff working this week, whether that be working from an office or home,” Dickinson said.

Even more relief families can look forward to is the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, of FPUC, by the Federal Cares Act. They’ll see an additional $600 per week to their checks.

“The claimants will automatically get these payments when they file for weeks ending April 4 through July 25,” Dickinson said.

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Over in New Jersey, 362,000 people applied for unemployment in the last two weeks. They’re working with an outdated system to get people money as fast as possible.

“The first week of the crisis, we saw a 1,600% increase in volume,” said Rob Asaro-Angelo, with the New Jersey Department of Labor.

Phone lines have been extremely busy with long wait times. So anyone needing to file is urged to apply online.

If you don’t have internet access and need to use the phone, the first few days of the week are the busiest.