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Voices of Americans suffering the pandemic’s economic harm

It has been two weeks since the federal government’s previous coronavirus relief package expired, and Democrats and Republicans appear no closer to a new deal. That means $600 less per week in unemployment benefits for many Americans, and millions of renters at risk of eviction. We followed up with viewers we spoke to at the pandemic's start about how these new developments are affecting them.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It has now been two weeks since the federal government's previous COVID relief package expired, and the sides appear no closer to a deal.

    That has led to the end of $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits, and millions of renters could be in danger of eviction after a moratorium expired.

    Today, the president said he wanted to make sure most Americans would get a new round of stimulus checks, if he could reach a deal with Democrats. But Democrats say the president isn't budging on his demands.

    This battle comes as millions of Americans find themselves with few job prospects and unemployed for the long haul.

    We followed up with viewers we spoke to at the start of the pandemic.

  • Austin McMullen:

    My name is Austin McMullen. I'm currently living in Raleigh, North Carolina, and attending North Carolina State University.

    We, the ones that are impacted, are hurting bad. I have got, like, a couple months left until I am just screwed. Yes, $600 to you might seem like chump change.

    But for people whose rents depend on this and are not receiving any income at all, that's home. That is not being kicked out. That's not living under a bridge. That is not being evicted, and then having that on your record for every single place that you apply to after this, and then having to live with the fact that you may not be able to get that apartment that you want for God knows how long.

  • Jason Krejewski:

    In April, professionally, for myself, I have been dealing a long-term furlough.

    Personally, my wife and I welcomed our first son, our healthy boy. It's been a mixed — a mixed bag. On the positive side, it's really nice to be able to spend a whole lot of time with him. So, it's been really great to be able to bond with him over the last few months like that.

    But the other side of that is, we do constantly wonder, how are we going to provide for him? What does this look like in the future? And there's just no clear answer on any of that right now.

    But it's disappointing to hear the conversation from leaders in Washington specifically to give the argument that this is a disincentive for people to work.

    I would love to go back to work, even if that meant me getting less money than I am receiving on unemployment. I would go back in a heartbeat just to have stability, to know what my future is going to be.

  • Sunyatta Amen:

    My name is Sunyatta Amen, and I am the TEO of Calabash Tea & Tonic in Washington, D.C.

    Our staffing has been very challenging. I'm accustomed to a staff of 25 or so. And now we're down to a staff of three to four people. And it's — that is incredibly different.

    We have seen a 400 percent increase in our sales online, and it is sustainable. The question comes in on what happens to your customer base when they are laid off or furloughed, or not as employed, or their disposable income shrinks. And so we are relying on the fact that they stay employed.

  • Jennifer White:

    I stopped working in mid-March, and — because of the pandemic, obviously. And, in that time, I had to borrow money from my parents.

    It was really, really stressful. I chose to forgo my apartment. I will be putting my things into storage. And I will be packing up my rabbits and like a year's worth of clothes, and driving down to Florida to live with my mother.

    So, I cannot wait to see my mom. But I'm 43 years old, and I had to make the choice of not signing my lease and moving in with my mother to make sure that I don't end up filing for bankruptcy when this is over. What kind of situation is that?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So hard to hear those stories.

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