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Coronavirus Latest: Laid-off Single Mother Living Off Unemployment Benefits, Food Stamps Nervous, 'Can't Pay Anything Right Now'

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Pennsylvania is leading our region in unemployment claims. Almost a half-million Pennsylvanians filed for benefits last week alone.

The numbers show just how dire many people and businesses are as the coronavirus pandemic continues to play out.

On a beautiful spring afternoon, you would expect to see Rittenhouse Square packed, but nearly every business is closed. Now, many workers are filing for unemployment.


"Of course you're happy to get some money, but it doesn't make you feel good as working," said Kat Payne, a single mother who was recently laid off.

Payne says she wants to work, but was forced out when the Marriott in Center City closed. She and her son are now living off of unemployment benefits and food stamps.

"I'm just looking at what I got and I'm just like, 'I can't pay anything right now.' I have to make it through the month. So, right now, I haven't paid anything and I'm very nervous about that," Payne said.

Payne's story is far from unique. Pennsylvania is reporting the hardest hit industries are hospitality, retail and businesses.

Between Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, nearly 1.2 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in just the last two weeks. If you've lost your job or had your hours reduced because of COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits.

"I have family and some of my clients actually paid me ahead of time, but it sucks, it's bad," said Valerie Carr who was forced out of business. "But it is what it is."

Carr owns Waggle De Tails Pet Services based in Havertown. Because of the stimulus package, sole proprietors like Carr, and independent contractors, will be allowed to file for unemployment benefits. States are expected to allow those filings by next week.

"I know I'm not the only one dealing with this right now. It's scary, it's really scary," Carr said. "I could never imagine this could happen. I'm 49 years old and I've never seen anything like this in my life."

Coronavirus Latest: What You Need To Know And Staying Connected

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are reporting lags in their system. They say if you've already applied, they are in the process of sending you a pin.

Also, officials are encouraging you to reapply everyday if you've had to reopen a claim.

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