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Coronavirus Impact: Hardship From Unemployment Driving Many To Food Distribution Lines

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Many people who recently lost their jobs in this economic crisis tied to the coronavirus say their own hardship is prompting them to spend hours in long food distribution lines.

Outside Little Havana on Wednesday morning, hundreds of people lined up long before the food distribution started at 1 p.m. Some told CBS4's Peter D'Oench they had been there more than seven hours before it was distributed.

Sitting inside their cards, some said their hours had been reduced because of the economy.

Romeo Vazquez said, "I have a job but I am working only one day. Only four hours a week and that is pretty bad. It's only $20 a day."

Another man named Abel said he had lost his job and added "It is super hard. I am in line here to get help."

Antonio Garcia said he was a student who also depended on the job he recently had lost.

"Until now they told us no paycheck, nothing, no federal stimulus," he said. "I also filed for unemployment about a week to two weeks ago. I realize it is early but I have not heard back."

While walking his dogs through the neighborhood by Marlins Park, Andres Berreondo said he had lost his job as a sales associate at a department store.

"I feel the days go by and we are seeing the consequences of everything with no income and no job and we do not know what is happening. I am trying to be positive and thank God parents but not everyone can get that help. I have tried to file for unemployment but every time I try the website, it is not working. It has become more complicated and I don't know why," said Berreondo.

"I just hope other people can get help too," he added. "I am trying to stay positive. You know what goes down always goes back up and I need to be positive every day."

The state of Florida has faced criticism in its handling of those seeking unemployment benefits.

In new figures released by the state on Wednesday afternoon, as of the end of the day Tuesday, 835,290 people had filed claims for unemployment. So far 404,317 claims have been paid – fewer than half of them.

Residents can receive unemployment benefits through the state and the federal CARES Act. They may be eligible for both programs. The state also announced another federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

To find out more about the programs, go to or call 1-833 FL-APPLY or 1-833-352-7759.

  • Click here for PUA Application Process
  • Click here for PUA Frequently Asked Questions
  • Click here for COVID-19 Employment Scenarios

CBS4 has profiled businesses recently that were offering jobs including Cao Bakery and Cafe and Sprouts Farmers Market as well as the Publix Supermarket chain.

In addition to that, jobs are being offered by the U.S. Postal Service and Home Depot, Lowe's and Walmart.

You can find out more about that at

Legal expert Laurie Yadoff told CBS4 on Tuesday that some people were not able to file claims due to technical issues and others do not have the technical ability to file. They have had to file paper applications with the state. Until recently those applications had been handed out at sites including the John F. Kennedy public library in Hialeah.

Yadoff said the state system had been overwhelmed.

"For those people who do not have a safety net and can receive assistance it is very hard for them and they have been forced to seek help for mental health issues," she said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently said the state's unemployment system was being beefed up with a new website, many more servers and 2,000 people to answer phone calls.

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