Coronavirus Chicago: Extended stay-at-home order means more hardship for hourly workers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The order to keep most businesses closed and people at home in Illinois is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, but it means at least another month of hardship for millions of workers.

Business at just about every service outlet has slowed to barely a drip. Chicago-based Dark Matter Coffee has made an expensive up-front staffing decision.

"We chose to keep anyone who wanted to work and who can work employed," said Kyle Hodges, minister of propaganda for Dark Matter. "We're paying all of their health insurance."

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Part of what's paying for benefits during the pandemic is auctioning off items online, and a community-fueled GoFundMe that's up to nearly $13,000. A lot of other bars and restaurants are doing the same.

"That's just going to get distributed equally among the hourly employees," Hodges said.

Madison Moore worked two jobs tending bar until two weeks ago.

"Anxiety has definitely taken over my life," she said.

Pouring drinks has been replaced by unemployment filings that likely won't be enough.

"It's really scary," Moore said. "Making rent, paying bills. How are you going to do it when you live paycheck to paycheck?"

Small spots like Flo in West Town are keeping the kitchen open with a veteran chef just volunteering.

"You have to have customers, people in the seats to be able to make payroll," said Amy Laria, Flo owner.

With empty seats, they wait for carry-out orders just to keep customers coming in somehow.

"For myself it's like, I'll figure it out, I'll get by. My employees, they have kids, families, people that count on them, and they're counting on me," she said.
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