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Federal pandemic unemployment benefits end, Nebraska mom says struggles ahead

Monday marked the end to federal pandemic unemployment benefits and in states like Nebraska...
Monday marked the end to federal pandemic unemployment benefits and in states like Nebraska where it was cutoff in June some are warning of what’s to come.
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Monday marked the end to federal pandemic unemployment benefits and in states like Nebraska where it was cutoff in June some are warning of what’s to come.

“It’s been a struggle, it’s been hard,” said Cassandra Walker, who’s been off pandemic unemployment since June 19 when Nebraska put an end to the federal benefit.

But as the Delta variant causes another surge in COVID-19 cases, Walker said it’s getting tough.

“A panic attack here and there worrying about my daughter and her safety because she isn’t old enough to get vaccinated,” said Walker, referring to sending her oldest daughter, who has asthma back to school. “I’ve already had emails from the school every week that somebody has COVID and this last week I actually received a letter which means my child was in direct contact with COVID.”

And Walker admits there have been some scary moments.

“First week back at school my baby had to go to the ER twice; she had to endure two COVID tests,” said Walker. “Thank God they both came back negative but that’s how easy it is for her to get sick.”

Last year Walker kept her daughter home from school. “I’ve tried to look into other options for her because we did good with remote learning, she was safe, she didn’t get sick at all,” said Walker.

But without the help of pandemic unemployment benefits she can’t afford to keep her daughter home this year.

“If I don’t work we’d be homeless, we’d have nowhere to go, and then it would be even worse,” explained Walker. “So I have no choice but to work, so what I can do.”

And while she’s glad to be back to work, Walker said not at the expense of her daughter’s health.

I love my child. I want my child to stick around for a lot of years,” said Walker. “I don’t want to see my baby in the hospital on a ventilator and there’s nothing I can do for her.”

According to estimates by The Century Foundation, more than 8 million people are now left without unemployment benefits.

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