When You Can’t Afford COVID

3 days ago, my husband [Andrew] and I made the decision to go into full lockdown. With his stable work-from-home job well established, and family able to bring us groceries, we thought it best to limit our exposure as much as possible. We have a toddler, and while none of us are technically in a risk group for the virus itself, we aren’t sure how our daughter’s little body would handle illness, as she’s never been sick before. We thought it best to play it safe, and do our part to stop the spread.

While I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since our daughter arrived, I did have an independent contracting position on the side which was bringing in enough to cover half of our rent each month. Unfortunately, I was let go from this position roughly a week before COVID hit the US due to budget cuts within the company.

Andrew has worked from home for 2 years, his steady 9-5. On the weekends, however, he’s continued to work at a coffee shop to bring in another half of our rent each month.

So, in our effort to limit our exposure, we decided Andrew should suspend his availability at the coffee shop and stay home. With our little savings, we figured we could limit our spending and get by for a month or so without Andrew’s extra income. I was also paid net 30 in my position, so my February pay has not yet come through, meaning we have not yet felt the effects of this loss of income.

On Thursday, Andrew sent his notice to the coffee shop, explaining that we needed to prioritize our family’s health at this time and limit “non-essential” outings.

On Friday morning, Andrew was let go from his 9-5. Due to COVID’s effect on the economy, his company had to terminate multiple employees, including my husband.

Within 2 weeks, my family went from 3 stable sources of income to zero. Immediately, Andrew called the coffee shop and got put back on the schedule. While we’re hoping he’ll get a few extra shifts with his now-open availability, we can’t support our family of 3 on his hourly barista earnings. And even more to speak to the state of the world, we probably can’t count on that “non-essential” job much longer as Washington won’t be too far behind California in calling for full lockdown.

3 days ago, we felt like we could afford to protect our family—and thus others—through isolation. Today, we have no choice but to go out into the world. My husband has to go to work; he has to go serve people coffee.

I am afraid. I am afraid for my family, for our financial stability and for our health with continued exposure. I am afraid of the clear gaps in the ability of the US to support its people during times of uncertainty. I am afraid of learning how to navigate unemployment and government assistance for the first time. I am afraid to be afraid, because our children feel our feelings.

I’m not sure how much I have to contribute to the climate right now. But ours is a perspective I didn’t really see until it happened to us. We need help. And there are probably millions of people just like us.

Stay safe, friends.

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