Top Stories

Struggling families, businesses still waiting for COVID-19 relief

PITTSBURGH — Families and businesses are left in the dark, wondering when relief will come after President Donald Trump announced he’s stopping all negotiations for a stimulus package after failing to agree with Democrats.

But in the last 45 minutes, Trump tweeted his support for stimulus checks despite halting negotiations earlier today.

“If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?" he said in a tweet.

He also tweeted, “The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!”

It’s not clear if lawmakers could come to an agreement on stimulus checks alone without the additional help for small businesses that’s been proposed.

Marlyn Parra, owner of restaurant Cilantro And Ajo, relied on the federal payment protection plan to bring back 50% of the employees she was forced to layoff early in the pandemic.

But that funding expired about a month ago.

Now with Trump ending stimulus package negotiations until after Election Day, holding up personal stimulus checks and federal aid being issued to small businesses, Parra said she feels left in the dark.

“What is happening? You don’t know where you’re going or what’s next, what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Parra said.

Parra said what pains her the most is that she’s responsible for the paychecks of her employees, and she doesn’t know what comes next for them or neighboring businesses struggling to keep open signs hung on their doors.

“They’re working, and they’re feeding their families,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking, definitely. Most of these places are like a family business.”

Kris Hoskins has relied on unemployment checks and relief payments to pay his bills and get through this pandemic.

“American people need help. That’s all there is to it. We don’t need another Supreme Court Justice yet. We need help financially,” Hoskins said.

He said without relief, Pennsylvanians are forced to make impossible choices -- ones he’s personally had to make.

They have to choose between paying utility bills, rent or car insurance, or getting groceries for the family.

“That’s what the stimulus money should be going towards, keeping a roof over peoples' heads. If they have a car, keep the car going, food on the table.” Hoskins said. “I think the government is playing with our lives. I’m not seeing any compassion.”