HOUSTON, Texas — Food giveaways like one held by Second Servings Houston are the new normal for many furloughed or laid-off workers who are fraught with concerns thanks to coronavirus-related closures.
"How am I going to pay this bill? how am I going to pay that bill?" said laid-off restaurant worker Demarquis Galloway. "How my family’s going to eat, you know?"
Galloway is among the more than 16 million Americans who’ve recently filed for unemployment benefits.
6.6 million more filed just last week, according to newly released U.S. Department of Labor statistics.
That includes 314,000 additional claims in Texas.
"It’s been hectic, you know?" said Galloway. "Having to file for unemployment.”
Some predict the U.S. unemployment rate in April could eventually hit 15 percent -- a number last seen at the tail end of the Great Depression.
"There is no historical perspective," said Dr. Dietrich Vollrath, chairman of University of Houston Economics Dept. "This is truly and completely unprecedented.”
Vollrath said the number of jobless claims filed in the last three weeks totals more than those filed in 15 or 16 months during the recession of 2008-2009.
But unlike then, this recovery should be a lot more rapid.
"The hope here is, because this is a unique situation that’s kind of forced everybody to just stay home, when we allow everybody to go back out, we can kind of go back close to normal," Vollrath said.
Sadly though, history shows many workers will likely not bounce back since COVID-19 closures could turn permanent for some businesses.
"There are going to be businesses that aren't able to weather it," said Vollrath.
Galloway just hopes his employer isn’t one of them.
"I'm hoping that it can just pass by, so life can go back to normal," said Galloway. "I know I'm not the only one stressing behind it."
The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.
Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.
But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.
The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.
Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...
- The air by coughing or sneezing
- Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
Help stop the spread of coronavirus
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Eat and sleep separately from your family members
- Use different utensils and dishes
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
- If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
- Follow social distancing
Lower your risk
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.
Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.