Maria Craddock has lupus and a deficient immune system.
A self-employed jack-of-all-trades, Craddock has been forced to stop two of her three main sources of income during the global pandemic of COVID-19: her position as a hairdresser at Perfection Family Salon in Mount Cross and as an auditor for Tractor Supply.
She is continuing to audit at Walmart because that’s the only position that’s still available, but the income isn’t enough to cover the bills for her and her 10-year-old daughter. Her doctor had recommended she remain quarantined because of her compromised immune system.
“I can’t just sit at home. I’m just kind of taking that risk,” she said of why she’s still working.
In the midst of the rapid spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness that has killed more than 11,000 people worldwide and has negatively affected the entire global economy, many people like Craddock are suddenly and indefinitely out of an income.
In Danville, many businesses have reduced hours and staff or adapted their services. Some restaurants have created delivery services or curb-side pickup offerings.
Buffalo Wild Wings, where 29-year-old Lauren Reynolds has worked as a bartender for the past 10 years, announced it would be closing the dining room Tuesday night.
The decision was made as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam implemented a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people, one that forced restaurants to decide between takeout and delivery only or closure.
Working St. Patricks Day, a day that is known for people going out and drinking, Reynolds was told about the closure in the middle of her shift. Everyone had to leave right after that.
“It does really, really stink, but I’m glad that I work for a company that’s not still putting my co-workers and I in danger,” she said.
Reynolds believes this decision put over 20 people out of a job.
Other businesses have decided to simply shut down indefinitely.
Reynolds’ husband, Brandon Powell, works at the Goodyear plant in Danville. On Wednesday, the Akron, Ohio-based company announced it would suspend manufacturing across all of its facilities in the Americas until at least April 3. That includes the Danville facility, which has a workforce of more than 1,900 people and is the area’s largest private employer.
Powell has at least a few more days of work as the plant is being shut down in phases. It is unclear whether Goodyear employees will receive any pay during the closure.
Both state and federal programs are being put in place to help those who no longer have an income.
The paid leave benefits in the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act — signed by President Donald Trump on Wednesday — will help many people who are temporarily out of a job.
On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced he is working with the commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission to waive several of the normal requirements for people to get unemployment benefits. These include the one-week waiting period and the mandatory two weeks of job searching.
It also expands the definition of unemployed to include those that “temporarily slow or cease operations due to the coronavirus outbreak.”
As a result, claims for unemployment have spiked drastically. Reynolds is applying for unemployment benefits. As a bartender who makes only $2.19 an hour and relies on tips for her income, she is not exactly sure how the unemployment process will work.
“I’ve worked where I have for 10 years, and I’ve never had to worry about whether or not I’m going to make any money,” she said.
She and Powell have four kids between them.
Globally, there have been more than 288,000 cases of COVID-19. In the United States, the total number of cases is over 15,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the Virginia Department of Health reporting 152 cases statewide Saturday. That’s an increase of 38 since Friday.
Craddock is still unsure where self-employed people like her fit in and how she will pay her bills before all the relief kicks in.
“I have never been in a situation where I really had no clue what to do,” she said, noting she still is trying to figure out what her options are.
Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.