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RALEIGH, NC — As Senator Tillis continues to fail to deliver relief to North Carolinians during the ongoing public health and economic crisis, Cal Cunningham hosted a Zoom press call to hold him accountable and discuss the challenges North Carolinians are facing due to COVID-19. Cal was joined by Grant Welch, legislative-political coordinator for CWA North Carolina, NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly, and Lynne Mason, owner of Lost Province Brewing Co in Boone.
During the call, Cal said: “The inability to get this virus under control or reach a bipartisan deal to support our families is a colossal failure of leadership that’s happened on Senator Tillis’ watch. Instead of fighting for the interests of North Carolinians, Sen. Tillis is looking out for his own interests, and caving to Mitch McConnell and corporate interests at the expense of families across our state. North Carolinians deserve better.”
It’s been over two months since federal unemployment benefits expired in North Carolina. The Charlotte Observer reported this morning on the stories of North Carolinians who file bankruptcy, those who have lost their jobs, are struggling to afford medical bills, car payments, or rent: “About a third of workers furloughed when the pandemic hit were eventually laid off, according to one estimate. That’s more medical bills that won’t be paid, more doctor visits put off, and more nights hungry. The bills will pile up, and with it, the need to seek bankruptcy protection.” Experts expect the number to rise — “By how much bankruptcies will increase is still unknown, and can vary widely depending on what aid Congress may supply.”
Meanwhile, local governments continue to navigate massive budget shortfalls, while trying to provide critical services. In Durham, Mayor Shewel writes: “At least 200,000 North Carolinians also have lost their employer-sponsored healthcare, and estimates are that almost 550,000 are struggling to find their next meal…If Congress doesn’t pass significant relief and recovery, state and local governments will founder and our most vulnerable residents will suffer the most.”
Grant Welch, legislative-political coordinator for CWA North Carolina discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on workers, specifically airline workers who have seen tens of thousands of employees furloughed in recent weeks: “If Congress had done their job, we wouldn’t be with these many unemployed workers in North Carolina and across the nation.”
Lynne Mason received a PPP loan for her brewery in Boone, but warned of the continued financial strain on small businesses without federal intervention: “The PPP loan and the SBA EIDL loan made it possible to reopen and continued funding is still needed for many other small businesses impacted by the COVID pandemic to be able to stay in business. For many small businesses, without additional assistance, I am afraid we will see many more business closures in the upcoming months.”
NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly spoke about how COVID-19 has affected schools and the need for federal funding: “Rather than crafting a plan to help schools reopen safely, Tillis chose to simply bully students and educators back into classrooms that are unsafe. The Trump Administration hasn’t done anything to help the tens of millions of students without the high-speed internet and technology they need to participate in virtual learning, and Tillis has done nothing to change this.”