TAMPA, Fla. — While talks about a second round of stimulus aid stall in Congress, Florida workers hope the help comes soon.
The pandemic has hit Florida workers hard. From mid-March to the close of business Monday, the state's Department of Economic Opportunity paid out nearly $18.9 billion to more than two million unemployed Floridians.
The need for help has been there and continues now.
"It would really be helpful to get that second stimulus to everybody. There's people that are going back to work that are still so far behind on bills that they can't make it without that little extra boost," Largo resident Trish Ann Eastman said.
She and her husband are on the same boat as millions of Americans still filing for unemployment.
When the pandemic first hit, the couple found themselves out of a job. The merchandizers quit knowing they could bring a deadly virus home to a loved one getting treated for cancer.
"It was just too much of a risk and then I'm immunocompromised myself," Eastman said.
They wound up on unemployment. With no money coming in, checks from the state and the $1,200 of stimulus money from the federal government helped, but only for a few months.
"Then we were, unfortunately, having to use the credit cards and max it out for little things like groceries or when our bill was up. We didn't know how we were going to do," Eastman said.
Trish Ann's husband is still unemployed. She just got a job at McDonald's to keep up with rent and medical bills. That's why she tweeted, asking for another stimulus check to keep a roof over her head and food on the table.
But stimulus talks between the U.S. House and Senate are at a standstill. A bipartisan plan that would have provided billions of dollars in aid to small businesses, money for state and local governments -- and unemployment benefits for couples like Trish Ann and her husband, Gene -- has no broad support.
Critical aid will run out on Dec. 21 if another aid package isn't passed.
"I think they really need to start jumping on it and start acting like normal humans and realize that there are people out there that desperately need this aid they're wanting to cause a war over. I wish they would be in our position so that it would get done, you know, maybe they need that hit of reality," Eastman said.
For now, the couple is still depending on unemployment checks to get by. They say they wouldn't be able to survive another lockdown without help from the government.
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