March 24, 2020

Embracing Community in the Face of the Coronavirus

Efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), such as restaurant closures and shelter-in-place orders, have been slowing down business in a number of industries. Before the health crisis is done, a financial crisis may come that adds to the damage many Americans are already dealing with. Right now, though, we have the opportunity to reject the fear, divisiveness, and unrest that can come with that and, instead, pull together and help each other all get through the hard times.

It looks like many EarnIn community members are getting fewer work hours or no hours at all due to the coronavirus. From March 10 to March 17, EarnIn recorded a drop in the average number of hours our community members were working. Every state in the U.S., plus D.C., showed a reduction in working hours to some degree, ranging from 3.99% on the low end to as much as 21.22% on the high end.

Looking outside of our own data, there are warnings of an employment shortage coming from other sources. Several states, such as Colorado and Ohio, reported large spikes in the number of people filing for unemployment last week.1 Industries related to travel, such as lodging, convention centers, and airlines, are seeking billions of dollars in aid from the federal government to avoid laying off more workers.2 Restaurants in New York City are letting nearly all of their employees go, and restaurants in other cities are facing similar situations.3 It feels like the economy is slowing down for everyone except for grocery store and healthcare workers, many of whom are working long hours to keep up with people buying supplies and needing treatment, respectively.45

That sounds discouraging, but in times like these, it’s important to remember the positive influence we can have on our community. If you look, you can find examples of people helping others just as easily as you can find bleak statistics. In Lawrence, Kansas, a restaurant called Ladybird Diner offered take away sack lunches to anyone who needed them last week after it stopped offering dine-in service.6 In Seattle, artist Yadesa Bojia did an Amharic-language livestream where he read out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public health guidelines to make the information more accessible to the Ethiopian-American community.7 Volunteers are starting remote mutual aid groups all around the country, coordinating using online spreadsheets to make sure locals who need supplies or a helping hand can get matched with support.8

In the midst of a problem affecting nearly the entire country, no one should have to fend for themself. Whether you need help or you’re in a position to offer help, safely and carefully reach out to those around you. How we respond to the impact of the coronavirus now will shape what the aftermath looks like.

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