SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Nearly 20,000 new people applied for unemployment in Utah last week, an explosive increase that’s in line with national data released Thursday amid widespread business closures related to the new coronavirus.

The food preparation and services industry took the biggest hit, with a 37% increase in unemployment claims after Gov. Gary Herbert ordered restaurants across the state closed to dine-in customers to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Claims from office support and management workers also increased, though by slimmer margins.

Salt Lake County, the state’s most populous, had the largest hike, with Utah and Davis Counties following behind.

“Clearly, the volume of claims has increased significantly, and also quickly,” said Kevin Burt, Unemployment Insurance Division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Service, in a statement. Many of those newly jobless workers do remain connected with their employers and expect to go back to work after the businesses re-open.

In Utah, a total of 19,591 people filed for unemployment, a nearly 1,400% increase over the week before.

Across the country, nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, almost five times the previous record set in 1982. The U.S. Department of Labor released some inaccurate figures indicating a smaller drop in Utah, state officials said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

In other developments:

— Utah Department of Corrections has announced plans to grant early release to at least 80 inmates as a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The corrections department announced Thursday that it asked the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole to release the 80 inmates who are within 90 days of their scheduled release date and have an approved address, with more releases expected over the next month.

The state prison releases will add to hundreds of others expected to be released from local jails. The department said there were not any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the state prison.

— A Transpiration Security Administration agent at the Salt Lake International Airport has tested positive for COVID-19, KSL-TV reported. The officer worked an early-morning shift in the security checkpoint at Terminal 1 and was last at work on March 24. The agency has reported positive coronavirus tests among screening officers at 14 U.S. airports.

— The mayors of Salt Lake City and county have expressed support for a shelter-in-place order for the area around Utah's capital city, but said they'd prefer it was part of a statewide effort.

— SugarHouse Industries, a Utah company that usually manufactures boat tops and covers, has reconfigured its operation amid the spread of the coronavirus to produce face shields and masks.


Associated Press photographer Rick Bowmer contributed reporting from Midvale.