The pandemic and a broken unemployment system are upending people’s lives
The pandemic crept up on Lakeisha Rollins one text at a time.
When the coronavirus hit the District in March, the 30-year-old was working at the Whole Foods Market on P Street NW, pulling items off shelves to fill online orders. Rollins, who is studying to become a nursing assistant, got a message that one of her co-workers had tested positive. The next day, another text alerted her about another positive employee. By April, six workers at the store had contracted the virus.
For Rollins — who has a 10-year-old and a baby arriving in August — the health risk was too much. A fan of “The Walking Dead,” she left her job and decided to wall her son and herself off from the outside like survivors barricading against zombies.
That meant a tough decision. She had about $500 in the bank and was eligible for pandemic assistance because she left her job over a health concern.
Until those benefits kicked in, should she buy food or pay the rent?
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