Connecticut was more than halfway through a multiyear modernization of its unemployment insurance system in mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic triggered a surge in claims and the state website that accepts applications froze.

Labor department personnel worked all night trying to figure out what had gone wrong and realized the website could only handle up to 8,300 applications in a single day, a fraction of what residents were now trying to submit. After fixing that problem, they tried to figure out what might break next,…

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