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For local workers and businesses, virus rescue payments and financial support is needed now

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SEATTLE -- When Duke's Seafood was forced to temporarily shut down its seven area locations last week, 31-year-old bartender Tim Gagne says he got a gut punch.

“We are struggling," Gagne said. "We are desperately struggling. It’s tough and it’s real.”

His partner also works in the restaurant business. She too was let go.

Gagne said, “We still have all of our bills, rent, student loans, healthcare, everything like that. It’s scary.”

Co-owners of Duke's Seafood, Duke Moscrip and his son John, posted a letter at their restaurants and online. In part, it read, "This hurts," and “We would not be doing this if we didn’t have to.”

John Moscrip shared that laying off their 300-plus workers to save the business was the hardest thing he’s ever done.

Moscrip said, “That’s been the biggest, the gut-wrenching challenge for me. The uncertainty of when we are going to get back and what all these people are going to do now.”

As of Wednesday night, Washington state had 2,580 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 132 deaths. According to the Department of Health, more than 31,700 of tests performed came back negative.

Help from the federal government may be on the way, as members of congress finalize largest economic relief bill in U.S. history.  At $2 trillion the rescue package will:

  • Send most Americans direct payments 
  • $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 per year
  • $2,400 per couple making $150,000 per year
  • An additional $500 payment per child
  • Expand unemployment benefits
  • Provide $367 billion dollars for small businesses to keep paying workers now forced to stay home

Darsenio Hunter got a double whammy. The 32-year-old certified health coach and fitness professional saw his business dry up when gyms in the state were forced to  shut down – then he lost his part-time job at a restaurant.

He’s appreciative of the government support, but says he’s worried it may come too late for so many in his industry.

Hunter said, “Last time we were in a situation like this, it took months for those funds to go out to people. So, it’s not like it’s a tomorrow thing, which is always a big concern for everyone in this situation.”

Gagne wonders how long the government payment will keep him and others financial afloat. He said, “Anything helps, but one check for $1,200 isn’t going to fix it. We are going to need long-term benefits.”

Businesses are hoping, this aid package will help them navigate this crisis.

“We all need help. We are all in this together," Moscrip said. "Same thing with our banks and our landlords and our team members, but if we all strive to get this thing together and work together, we’ll get back and get things up and running like they were previously.”

Optimism, that may just be what we really need during these unsettling times.

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