The industry response to the outbreak of novel coronavirus has been impressive but more needs to be done to ensure the survival of hospitality employees and businesses.
Several brands have stepped up quickly to make donations to industry-specific relief funds, such as the $1 million donation from Diageo to the USBG National Charity Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Fund, and the $1 million donation to Children Of Restaurant Employees (CORE), the James Beard Foundation and Another Round, Another Rally by Patrón Tequila.
Those donations and several others—Tito’s, Beam Suntory, Southern Glazer’s, Samuel Adams—are incredible. But new developments over the weekend show that much of our workforce will require additional support.
COVID-19 by the Numbers
On Saturday, March 21, nearly a quarter of Americans found themselves ordered to remain home. That means a massive percentage of our workforce will find itself struggling to make ends meet, if they aren’t already in that situation by now.
Early last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was reported to have warned Senate Republicans that the national unemployment rate could reach 20 percent without swift government action. Just days later, unemployment claims jumped up by over 30 percent. That’s faster than at any point during the Great Recession of 2007.
Unemployment and systems across the US are being inundated with claims. Those who find themselves needing this assistance should not put off filing if they’re no unemployed due to bar, restaurant and nightclub closures, slowed traffic at hotels, etc. Generally speaking, quitting a job makes someone ineligible for unemployment benefits (with very few exceptions), so taking that action should be avoided.
By Sunday, March 22, it was reported that the number of novel (meaning “new”) coronavirus cases across the globe had risen past 328,000. Sadly, the number of worldwide coronavirus-related deaths is now more than 14,300.
In America, the number of COVID-19 cases had exceeded 31,000, with the number rising. The US is now the third-highest nation regarding number of total COVID-19 cases, only behind China and Italy in the number of novel coronavirus cases nationwide. This is a startling place to find ourselves.
That’s the reality in which we find ourselves. It’s a stark one and enough to make anyone feel defeated, desperate and depressed. But there are resources available beyond those that are industry specific.
The United Way is present in 95 percent of communities in the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The organization helps man 2-1-1, present in many states to provide essential services to those in need, and helps people and families access information, shelter, food and more. Click here to find a United Way in your state or US territory. To donate to the United Way, click here.
No Kid Hungry also provides children with food. The organization has already given local school districts, local organizations and food banks $1 million in grants. They plan to release another $5 million in the next few weeks.
Along those lines, many schools are providing children in need with breakfast and/or lunch. Anyone who has children should find out if their local schools and other organizations are providing such services. Again, this is where dialing 2-1-1 can be a lifesaver. The service can also be helpful in locating food banks.
When emergencies arise, it’s not just First Responders, medical professionals and the philanthropic that mobilize. Unfortunately, scammers see opportunity when people are at their most desperate.
Luckily, there are resources available to monitor charities and avoid scams.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published their tips to “Avoid Coronavirus Scams.” CharityWatch.org, as their name implies, is a charity watchdog that grades more than 600 charities from A+ to F.
Those in need can rely on both industry-specific resources and organizations not tied directly to the hospitality industry. There are organizations beyond those listed in this post, and many can be found through quick online searches and dialing 2-1-1.