Desirae Hernandez, a 39-year-old home health care worker, said she did everything she could to keep from getting sick while she worked through the pandemic, but she wound up contracting the virus from a client. She was out of work for four weeks, with only six hours of sick leave.
Everyone in her home in Kennewick, Washington, got sick, too. Her husband, who was already working less because of the coronavirus shutdowns, was out of work for weeks with COVID-19. Hernandez’s 9-year-old son contracted the virus, as did her mother-in-law. Hernandez’s brother- and sister-in-law were both hospitalized.
“It was all around a scary situation,” she said. “Financially, I’m still catching up.”
They paid only the bills they had to pay and went to the food bank. Her cellphone was shut off. So was the Internet at home. She paid a neighbor $20 to borrow WiFi so her young son could attend online school. Luckily, Hernandez has insurance through the health care arm of the Service Employees International Union.Now everyone is feeling better, but the financial pain lingers. Hernandez says she has $3.94 in her checking account.
“At least it’s not in the red,” she said with a laugh.