She is putting on her show from a remote location, using her family as her video crew. She points out that 70% of the labor force does not have the option of working from home and have little savings. One in three Americans say that they or an immediate family member has lost their job because of the pandemic measures and more than half report a cut in pay or work hours. Many are going to be seriously hurt by the social distancing and shut down protocols and will need immediate relief measures, like this couple in Kansas City.
Even when they were working, Brown and Smith earned only $2.15 an hour, the federal minimum wage for servers, plus tips.
“We’ve maybe got two or three weeks before we run out of food,” said Brown. “It’s on the razor’s edge for sure. We don’t have any way to pay the rent. I’ve talked to the landlord and let him know what’s going on. I’m trying to prepare for the worst.”
Smith is worried. “He could definitely put us out,” she said.
Then there’s the question of what happens if either or both of them catch coronavirus. “We don’t have health insurance,” said Smith. “At home sick is pretty much what we would do.”
With some people hit with hospital bills for tens of thousands of dollars for treatment, Brown and Smith are not alone on Kansas City’s east side asking whether they would run up a debt they might never be able to pay or take a chance on shutting themselves away and hope to make it through. Even if they catch coronavirus, it may not officially be confirmed. Getting a test in Missouri is still a challenge, even for those showing symptoms of the disease and they require a prescription from a doctor who all too often has to be paid as well.