he gyms are empty. The restaurants are empty. The streets are empty … and wallets are empty. A global pandemic has caused a crisis in the personal lives of students in Liberal as some lose their job due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
COVID-19 has caused many businesses to adapt to the Center for Disease Control guidelines like quarantine and social distancing. Businesses that can not conform to these rules have gone out of business, either temporarily or permanently, putting more people out of a job.
In the United States, 6.6 million Americans have filed for unemployment. In the state of Kansas, a stay home order has been issued by Governor Kelly leaving local businesses like gyms, restaurants and hotels to close down.
In the small and somewhat isolated world of Southwest Kansas, small local businesses used to be the staple of the community, but without patrons, many are struggling to stay open.
Mario Loredo, a sophomore at Seward County Community College, was thrilled when he got a job at The Hustle—a new coffee shop in town. Now, just months later, the coffee shop is closed and is uncertain of when they will reopen, leaving him without a job.
“The whole virus [COVID-19] thing has impacted us in two ways. First, there’s little business because people are trying to remain in quarantine. Second, with people panic buying everything at the store, there were hardly supplies left that we needed,” Loredo said.
Small family owned restaurants have started temporarily closing due to the current circumstances. Delgados Restaurant, a family owned business announced on Tuesday they would temporarily be closing. The Italian restaurant Ruffinos announced they permanently closed on March 29.
Loredo’s parents own a small restaurant called Irma’s Cafe. He said that times like now are tough because there are limits at Walmart to what they can buy.
“Small businesses are important because they make up the community, they put money back in the community, it’s just hard because this is how we get by,” Loredo said.
Students at SCCC lost their jobs after the campus closed. Some of them relied on these jobs to help pay for their college tuition or books.
Two students at SCCC lost their jobs at the Health and Wellness center at the college. To follow CDC guidelines, the SCCC Health and Wellness center closed for the remainder of the crisis, leaving students like Preston Burrows and Ana Herrera out of a job.
“I knew I was screwed because I knew there was no way I could get another job, so I just have to hold on to the money I have,” Burrows said.
Burrows is in a position a lot of Americans can identify with right now. COVID-19 was unexpected and has caused what could potentially be the highest unemployment since the Great Depression. These effects have trickled down to the college students, who have not made it out to the work field yet, leaving some to wonder about how this will affect them being employed in the future.
In some cases students who work at community colleges try to save their money for the future, when they transfer to universities. Students are left with only worry now that their source of income is gone and pressure is on to figure out where that money will come from.
Herrera, a sophomore behavioral science major, plans on attending Kansas State University. She saved the money earned at SCCC for when she transfers because “that is a big change” and money will be needed for books.
Unemployment impacts mental health as well as financial needs. For some, jobs can be a social outlet, an emotional support system or a place to meet new people. Without a job also goes one’s social life, which during quarantine can take a toll on an individual’s psyche.
“The biggest loss for me was a social one. I met a lot of people at the Wellness Center and I really enjoyed making friends there…being home all the time without that outlet is difficult,” said Herrera.
Herrera is not alone. Many students’ social and emotional needs may be linked back to the classroom or the workplace. The student life reflects the average American who recently lost their job to COVID-19.
“It’s hard to suddenly not have structure in your life but you can create your own structure. I’ve been painting and staying focused on my assignments and that’s been keeping me sane,” Herrera said.
Filing for unemployment is becoming a serious consideration for most. Most everyone qualifies if they have lost their job due to COVID-19 related interference. The application for whether someone qualifies is at the state’s website. The eligibility has become more malleable due to recent circumstances.