HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Just over 15,000 people filed new unemployment claims in Montana last week, the first week that self-employed, contract and gig workers could file for payments under the coronavirus relief program.

Over the previous six weeks, more than 96,000 new unemployment claims have been filed with the state Department of Labor and Industry.

The agency is asking employers to sign up for accounts that would give them online, next-day information on claims filed by their employees to help the agency process claims more quickly and catch fraudulent claims before paying them.

Montana reported two new cases of coronavirus from tests run on Wednesday, but one involves someone who contracted it out of state and has not returned to Montana.

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