New Jersey workers say it's next to impossible to reach unemployment office

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A $483 billion coronavirus aid package flew through the Senate on Tuesday after Congress and the White House reached a deal to replenish a small-business payroll fund and provided new money for hospitals and testing.

Passage was swift and unanimous, despite opposition from conservative Republicans. President Donald Trump tweeted his support, pledging to sign it into law. It now goes to the House, with votes set for Thursday.

"I urge the House to pass the bill," Trump said at the White House.

Most of the funding, $331 billion, would go to boost a small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week. An additional $75 billion would be given to hospitals, and $25 billion would be spent to boost testing for the virus, a key step in building the confidence required to reopen state economies.

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President Donald Trump comments on the Senate passage of a $500 billion coronavirus relief deal.

In could be good news for workers in the Philadelphia region.

"I'm a hairstylist," said Bill McQuillan of Manayunk.

Theresa York of Mays Landing said, "I do work at the Borgata."

Erica Trombetta works as a waitress near Atlantic City.

But with businesses closed, they have been dipping into savings.

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Answering questions about problems with unemployment benefits

"What happens when you run out of savings, where do you go then?" said McQuillan.

York says she can barely afford food and bills for the family.

She said, "We're almost paycheck to paycheck."

Trombetta, also with four children, is now behind on bills.

"I didn't pay my rent for this month yet because the money I do have I need it for diapers, food and wipes," said Trombetta.

All three also work in New Jersey. None of them can get through to the state for assistance.

"I filed three weeks ago. It's still not even showing I put a claim in."

McQuillan said, "I've called numerous times. One day I put in on dial 267 times. I didn't get through."

York said, "You send an e-mail, you get a generic e-mail back."

This past weekend there were protests all over the country as people demanded all businessed reopen.

Trombetta agrees. "So I can pay my bills. I'm going to run out of money soon," she says.

York and Mcquillen aren't far behind.

"I'm concerned with the virus and I'm concerned about my family's safety, so I'm kinda in the middle," said York.

McQuillan said, "If they feel it's safe and they give the ok, I'll go and take all the precautions."

But from a medical standpoint, Dr. Tony Reed, the chief medical officer of Temple University Hospital, says we're not ready.

"We're still on the rise in cases. So numbers are higher each day and we're not at the peak yet," he said. "I still have that lingering feeling fear that we don't want to overwhelm the systems and get to a point where we get stretched so thin we can't take care of people."

So when is it time to get back to normal?

Dr. Reed says that process should not start until after they see 14 days with patients decreasing each day.

Unfortunately, we're not there yet.


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