Nevada is fast-tracking the hiring of temporary unemployment office workers to deal with a wave of benefits claims that followed the mid-March closure of casinos and other businesses in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Monday.

The governor said he signed a directive letting the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation hire contractors and rehire retirees or former employees to process claims alongside regular state workers through the end of this year.

Sisolak says skipping normal competitive hiring practices should help get insurance benefits more quickly to more out-of-work Nevada residents.

Officials acknowledge the state jobless office has been overwhelmed by more than 440,000 initial claims for jobless benefits this calendar year. That’s close to one in three people who had jobs statewide in February.

Untold numbers of others have been frustrated by long wait times, dropped calls and computer problems.

State health officials reported Sunday that 306 people have died from the COVID-19 illness in Nevada and almost 6,100 have tested positive.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for up to three weeks. The vast majority recover. Some older adults and people with existing health problems can experience severe illness including pneumonia and death.