The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.
All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.
Jesse Vasquez, Uptown resident
I’m lucky enough to have a very personable and understanding landlord. My boyfriend and I are paying half the rent into April and May and then just adding the remaining months’ balance throughout the rest of next year. I knew putting a little bit away would be a better plan than just kind of holding onto all of our money.
We have a couple of friends who work in a call center downtown. We have gone through the application process for that. With this last kind of push with the [$2.2 trillion federal stimulus], it’d be more worth our time to just wait it out and have kind of a lean budget for the next few months rather than getting a full-time job and working 40 hours a week and making $200 a week more. If at the end of that four months that federal money runs out, I think that will kind of make us desperate enough to look for other employment.
Both of us applied for unemployment benefits. We had no issues. I had gone through the system before, so I kind of knew the different menu options. The money was in our account by Wednesday, minus taxes. The next thing we’re looking for is kind of when the federal benefits will kick in — the $600 a week and the $1,200 check. When the state benefits are a few hundred dollars a week, an additional $600 is kind of a big leap.
Today we just dropped off a present for my cousin who turns 31 this week. We usually do a big celebration for him. We heard Menards has toilet paper and cleaning supplies, so we’re going there and getting some dog food.
I’m not going stir-crazy quite yet. I think if it gets a little bit more intense, I might feel a little trapped. Once you get more information about all of the things that could go wrong, it’s hard not to focus on that. I’m avoiding that mindset and just trying to be cautiously optimistic.