The Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative has released its COVID-19 community concerns for the week of April 13, and lost income is among the top issues this week.
RMAPI officials said lost incomes continue to be a priority concern, as well as information about the federal rebates and how to access them for those who do not file income tax returns or do not have direct deposit or bank accounts. Applying for unemployment benefits continues to be a struggle as well.
“While community members are aware of expanded unemployment benefits and the CARES Act rebate, many are in need of relief now to afford their basic needs such as rent, food, hygiene products or utilities,” RMAPI officials said in the update.
The update suggests a need for accurate information about how COVID-19 is spread and what activities might put people at risk. Questions raised include whether the virus is transmitted through water and if smoking increases the risk level.
“Wearing masks is now recommended for anyone going out in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it is important to remember that due to structural racism this is challenging for African Americans who may be perceived as dangerous for doing so,” RMAPI officials warned.
Mental health is a growing concern, the update contends, due to social isolation. Some community members are seeking ways to engage with their community virtually while others are not sure how to get emotional support during the crisis.
There also is a growing concern for children who are falling further behind in their education. RMAPI found that parents who are working remotely do not have the time or financial means to provide full-time homeschooling. Some children are not accessing available food supports and those who do are more at risk of contracting COVID-19.
“Children whose routines have been disrupted are struggling emotionally and may be without emotional support without access to their teachers and peers,” according to RMAPI’s findings.
There is concern for what employment opportunities will look like after the quarantine ends and a fear for how to manage after the outbreak ends and bills have piled up, the organization found.
RMAPI examined 211 call data and found that the percentage of calls related to food needs had increased significantly from early March to early April. On April 1, 37 percent of 211 calls were for food. That compares with less than 10 percent a month earlier.