For millions of Americans, another month of rent payments are due this weekend. We checked in with three workers we’ve been following since the start of the pandemic to hear what’s changed in their personal economies.
Brooklyn waitress and barista Maria Barillas got a job at a new restaurant in July. Work is busy, but because the restaurant is only offering outdoor dining, she expects business to slow down as it gets colder. With coronavirus cases rising across the U.S., she’s also expecting another shutdown.
“I’ve actually considered trying to figure out if I can break my lease, if the shutdown is in the winter and there’s no sign from the government that there’s going to be a relief bill.”
Chicago musician Seth Shulman’s new normal is teaching lessons via Zoom and playing a few shows when he can. His 80s cover band recently performed at a drive-in concert.
“Rent is still a bit of a struggle. I’m not going to lie, I’m still on food stamps and stuff, things that I don’t really enjoy being on. But it could be a lot worse. There’s a lot of people suffering out there.”
April Oliver started working full-time at an environmental consulting company in Bozeman, Montana over the summer. After a few months in the position, she feels integral to the company.
“My main concern right now is I was unemployed for four months. And so my savings was almost completely drained. And I want to get to the point where if I lose my job, I can be unemployed for four months and not be hurting.”
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?
Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.
How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?
Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.
How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?
As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.
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