Coronavirus outbreak worries hourly workers without paid sick time

CHICAGO -- Placido Borrequero, a Pilsen father of three, is worried about how he will continue to put food on the table if the coronavirus spreads to him.

Borreguero works in landscaping and lawn care.

"I don't have any sick days. If I am sick I don't work that day, I don't get paid that day. That's why I am really worried," he said.

Leone Bicchieri is the executive director of Working Family Solidarity, located in the Pilsen neighborhood.

He says he has been hearing from people on the south and west sides who are already struggling to make ends meet, concerned about access to healthcare and supporting their families.
"If they miss one or two days work and they are already behind a month or two in the bills, they are going to be evicted and now they're going to be homeless," Bicchieri said.

He wants to know what the plan is to help these workers if the virus continues to spread.

"The government really need to get behind this, needs to tell businesses and companies. Please do not fire or discipline low wage workers who have to stay home," Bicchieri said.

"I have a wife and three children. What's going to happen to them. I am the main bread winner," Borreguero said.

Gov. JB Pritzker made a plea to businesses today to be understanding of the concerns surrounding the virus and encouraged anyone sick to stay home, but knows that's a luxury not everyone in this city can afford.

In addition to those who are self-employed or hourly workers, the city is also feeling the impact of missed business opportunities.

Carly Pulford opened the storage unit door to an unfinished passion project set to debut at the Inspired Home Show at McCormick Place.

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Carly Pulford was putting the final touches on her display booth of second hand materials when the trade show was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.



The trade show was expected to bring tens of thousands of people from more than 100 countries.
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"This was really what we were hoping would catapult us to the next level," Said Carley Pulford, owner of the eco-friendly company Zefiro.

Pulford was putting the final touches on her display booth of second hand materials when the trade show was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

"It could have been a really exciting time for us. I think especially just being able to get in front of those buyers that we otherwise will not have the chance to do," she said.

She agreed that the show needed to be cancelled, despite taking an investment hit to her business.

"I think that the lost opportunities that we will never actually be able to calculate are really unfortunate," Pulford said.