Things That Matter

Are You One Of The Millions Of Americans That’s Lost A Job? Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Unemployment Benefits

The Coronavirus pandemic has decimated economies around the world, but the U.S. in particular has been hit very hard. The country has seen more than 35 million people apply for jobless benefits since the crisis began – pushing unemployment figures to record-setting levels.

As of late April, the U.S. unemployment rate was nearing 15% – the highest since the Great Depression during the 1930s – after being at record lows through February.

If you’re lucky enough to still have your job, you likely know someone who doesn’t. And as state and federal governments try and put together bills aimed at supporting out of work Americans, here’s everything you need to know about the crisis and how you can get help.

The U.S. economy has shed more than 10% of its workforce in just two short months.

More than 33 million jobless Americans have now made unemployment claims in the past seven weeks. These are record-breaking figures that show just how fragile the U.S. economy is. And the figures are in stark contrast to what they were just before the pandemic began.

In March, the official unemployment rate in the was 4.4%, close to a 50-year low, but economists predict it could now be as high as 20%, a level unseen since the Great Depression.

The pace of layoffs has overwhelmed state unemployment systems across the country. Over a million people in North Carolina have now made unemployment insurance benefit claims, equivalent to 20% of the state’s workforce. Some 4 million have applied in California and the state’s jobless benefits fund is “very close” to running out, Governor Gavin Newsom said this week.

Some of the worst hit sectors include industries that employ people of color at much higher rates.

Credit: Ivy Caballo / Getty

Black and Hispanic workers are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis because they are overrepresented in industries that were hit first by social distancing mandates and stay-at-home orders, economists say. These include leisure and hospitality, such as hotels and restaurants; retail; and construction, where Latino men make up more than a quarter of workers.

According to a recent report by UnidosUS, Latinos are 17.6% of the total U.S. workforce, but they make up large segments of so-called essential workers, including 54% of agricultural workers; 38.8% of food manufacturing workers; 29% of medical assistants; 20.5% of grocery store workers; and 18.8% of transportation and utility workers.

Even more serious, Blacks and Hispanics are also dying of covid-19 at higher rates than whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In fact, Latinos now have the highest rate of unemployment in the country.

Credit: Stephanie Keith / Getty

At 18%, Latinos have the highest unemployment rate in the U.S, while the jobless rate for workers nationwide stands at 14.7%.

“This devastating economic data affirms that Hispanic and African American communities have been disproportionately impacted during this pandemic,” said Sindy Benavides, CEO of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), adding that “minority-owned small-businesses have been shut out of [Paycheck Protection Program] loans and unable to keep workers on payroll.”

But governments are trying to provide support to the jobless – here’s what you need to know.

For most workers who have been laid off as a result of the pandemic, the first line of defense is to file an unemployment claim. Usually, you’ll be entitled to a percentage of your regular pay. In addition, the CARES Act – passed by Congress in March – will supplement your unemployment benefits by up to $600 per week.

Benefits.gov provides a comprehensive unemployment assistance page in both English and Spanish to help laid-off workers identify unemployment resources in their state.

It’s important to note that for Dreamers and other undocumented workers, they’re mostly left out of the above programs. And most were also denied the one-time stimulus checks. However, there are many resources at Informed Immigrant for refugees and undocumented workers, such as cash assistance and grant programs, rent relief, food banks, medical assistance, and support with renewing DACA status or other legal aid.

Even if you’re part of the gig economy – or self-employed – you could be eligible for unemployment benefits.

It’s also worth noting that thanks to the pandemic, even if you are a gig worker or self-employed, you’re likely eligible for federal jobless benefits – even if your state doesn’t provide them. The federal CARES Act promises unemployment benefits for the first time to gig workers and the self-employed.

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Peru’s President Survives Impeachment Over Handling Of Coronavirus But What Happens Next?

Things That Matter

Peru’s President Survives Impeachment Over Handling Of Coronavirus But What Happens Next?

Chris Bouroncle / Getty Images

Earlier this month, Peru’s Congress moved to initiate impeachment proceedings against the country’s president over his alleged involvement with a singer involved in a fraud case. However, Peru’s struggle to contain the Coroanvirus outbreak also became a focal point of the impeachment proceedings.

Although, President Martín Vizcarra survived the impeachment vote this week, his country is still spiraling out of control in terms of the Covid-19 pandemic. Peru now has one of the world’s highest mortality rates, made worse by political strife and Peruvians are wondering where the country goes next amid all the turmoil.

Peru’s President survived his impeachment trial but he still faces serious hurdles in the road ahead.

What started out as an alleged fraud and corruption case, devolved into a sort of referendum on Vizcarra’s handling of the country’s failed Coronavirus response. The Coronavirus tragedy has fueled political insurrection. On Sept. 18, an opportunistic legislature tried to oust the president, who has been dogged by accusations of misusing public funds and then covering up the scandal.

However, the revolt fell flat. Just 32 lawmakers voted to remove Vizcarra, glaringly short of the 87-vote impeachment threshold, which is a good thing. Regime change on top of a public health hecatomb might have pushed the afflicted nation that much closer to collapse.

The decision came after long hours of debate in which legislators blasted Vizcarra but also questioned whether a rushed impeachment process would only create more turmoil in the middle of a health and economic crisis.

“It’s not the moment to proceed with an impeachment which would add even more problems to the tragedy we are living,” lawmaker Francisco Sagasti said.

The original impeachment case stemmed from his alleged involvement with a singer who faced serious charges of fraud.

President Vizcarra faced the challenge to his leadership after the Congress approved a motion to start impeachment proceedings against him over leaked audio tapes and alleged ties to a singer involved in a fraud case.

Lawmakers in Peru’s Congress, a mosaic of parties from the left and right with no overall majority, heard recordings of two private conversations between Vizcarra and government officials about meetings with Richard Cisneros, a little-known singer.

Vizcarra told reporters that the new challenge represented “a plot to destabilise the government.” “I am not going to resign,” he said. “I have a commitment to Peru and I will fulfill it until the last day of my mandate.”

Presidential elections are due to be held next year and Vizcarra has already said he will not run again.

But given Peru’s failed Covid-19 response, the president also faces serious doubts in his abilities to bring the country back from the brink.

Latin America has been devastated by the pandemic and it’s only been exacerbated by the total obliteration of growing wealth across the region – as millions are left out of work. The pandemic has largely undone decades of hard work that helped pull millions of Latin Americans out of poverty.

And Peru once the showpiece of Latin American economies — growing at a pacesetting 6.1% a year between 2002 and 2013 and lifting 6.4 million out of poverty — the country saw gross domestic product fall 30% in the second quarter, and is likely to finish the year aound 17% poorer before rebounding next year, according to Bloomberg Economics. Despite generous aid to the poor and strict social distancing rules that drew international praise, the Andean country has been burdened by the pandemic with one of the world’s highest mortality rates.

The possibility of a president being impeached amid the pandemic, had many in the U.S. wondering if we could do the same.

In the U.S., Donald Trump has left much of the country to fend for itself as the pandemic ravages state after state. There has been little in the way of a national plan for how to overcome the outbreak. In fact, many lies about the virus, treatment, and contagion have come directly from the president himself.

He’s even instructed the CDC to stop sharing pandemic-related information with the public, and instead to send all data directly to the White House.

Donald Trump and his administration have sowed division and false information that has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans and months of on and off again quarantine orders that seem to have no end in sight. With policies like this, it’s no surprise that some are seriously considering a second impeachment trial.

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You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Culture

You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Tacovid: SaborViral / Facebook

Pandemia. Brote. Vacuna. La Peste. Although you may find these terms in a glossary about the Covid-19 outbreak, that’s not what these words actually refer to. Instead, they’re options on the menu at a Mexican taqueria called “Tacovid: Sabor Viral”, a perhaps surprisingly very successful Coronavirus-themed restaurant.

Although to many having a Covid-themed taqueria may seem morbid or disrespectful or perhaps gross – I mean who wants to order a plague taco? – the taqueria is making light of a very serious situation with humor. Something that several other businesses have done since the pandemic began.

”Tacovid: Sabor Viral” is the Mexican taqueria going viral – pun intended – for its Covid-themed menu.

Ok…virus-themed tacos don’t exactly sound appetizing. Especially, as we’re still in the midst of a very real pandemic. But one 23-year-old man in the Mexican city of León, who was forced to close down his dance studio because of Coronavirus, is counting on a Covid-themed restaurant – and so far he’s been surprised by its success.

Brandon Velázquez converted his dance academy into a taquería at the end of July, and given that Mexico and the rest of the world was – and is – in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic decided to call it Tacovid Sabor Viral.

“I had to close my dance academy during the pandemic [but] then an opportunity arose to return to the same place, however, people still did not go out for fear of getting infected.” he told the newspaper El Universal.

“I had always wanted to open a taqueria and, at the end of July, the opportunity to do so occurred. It was how I took advantage of the moment to create this business with a coronavirus theme,” he added.

Items on the menu are named after – you guessed it – the Coronavirus and don’t sound like anything you’d willfully choose to order.

The young entrepreneur detailed the name of each dish, taking full advantage of the Coronavirus theme.

“We have around 12 different dishes, among them are the ‘Tacovid’; we have ‘Forty’, ‘Quesanitizing’, ‘Pandemic’, ‘Outbreak’, and many others. The price varies depending on the dish you order,” he told El Universal.

In addition to themed dishes, the servers also fit the Coronavirus-theme.

When the pandemic hit Mexico, the government urged Mexicans to observe “su sana distancia” and the now common mascot – Susana Distancia – was born.

“In the restaurant, a waitress dressed as a nurse with the name of ‘Susana’ takes orders and works the tables, referring to the healthy distance campaign that was implemented as a precautionary measure,” he says.

To his surprise – and honestly mine as well – the taqueria has been very successful.

Brandon told El Universal that he’s been pleasantly surprised by the support he has received from customers. “I’m surprised because we have had really good sales, despite the circumstances, we have had a lot of support by the community and we’ve already expanded to have two locations.”

“Customers are funny about the theme we are using in the business, and they are delighted with the dishes we are offering. They enjoy it and have a good time,” added Brandon.

Things are looking so good for Brandon and his Covid-themed taqueria, that he’s looking to expand the food business and add new dishes to the menu. “There is always the idea of new names for other dishes that we want to include in the menu.”

Brandon also said that he’s looking to build out a business model so the restaurant could expand to other parts of the country as a franchise.

Apparently, people are really into Covid-themed foods, as this isn’t the first place that a shop as cashed in on the pandemic. Back in April, a panadería was selling out of Covid-themed baked goods so quickly, they couldn’t keep the shelves stocked.

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