THE COVID CHRONICLES
by Melissa Hartmann, September 9, 2020
Days have blended together for the past 6 months. I have been furloughed to half time and my husband, who is a contractor, has had little to no work during the pandemic. It’s been a challenging 6 months. I know others are suffering more than we are, but this is like no other situation I have ever experienced. It’s my first time ever collecting unemployment for the weeks I do not work. My husband was denied unemployment payments, even though gig workers were entitled to apply for unemployment during the pandemic. He called the NY Department of Labor daily with no avail for months. He sent messages through their system to get help with filing a claim. Unfortunately, the message system only handles Level 1 support issues. After months of trying to call, he finally got through. He explained his situation and resent our filed tax forms from last year to show he is a tax payer. There wasn’t a response for weeks. A month later (this is 5 months from when he first certified his unemployment claims), he FINALLY got a human being on the phone at the NY Department of Labor. After being transferred 3 times, he was disconnected. He tried again the next day and got through. He requested to be transferred to a Level 3 customer support specialist (those that could handle unique situations such as his). The support specialist stated that all the paperwork needed to proceed with payment was in place. He was to receive the backdated payments he was entitled to that week. Three days later, he was paid for all but 4 weeks he filed for. Needless to say, the payments were a small financial relief. We have deferred payments on our mortgage and our car payments since March (thank goodness we were able to do this).
I have been looking for freelance work to supplement the weeks I am not working and my husband has gone through countless interviews for jobs (so far, no luck). There is a little over 8 million people unemployed right now, so the competition for jobs is very high.
I, like most people, would like to see this pandemic end and the economy and jobs soar. We have to do our part: wear a mask, wash your hands, stay 6 feet or more apart, and stop large gatherings. NO ONE wants to wear a mask, stay away from others and live the way we are currently living.
It breaks my heart to see people get angry or fight with someone over a mask. The thought that some believe that someone’s rights are taken away when they are told to wear a mask is ludicrous. Why would someone think that their rights are more important than a life? I just do not understand that. I am not looking to fight with anyone about my opinion; I am simply trying to understand priorities of some people. I have two compromised family members (son and husband), so it’s important to me to keep them safe.
This is my story, my views, my venting session. I hope we can get through this pandemic in a civil, safe, and healthy fashion. I want to be able to feel safe and happy again.