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Point of View: White or blue collar, coronavirus economic pains spare almost no one

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Last June, Brittani James finally decided to take a leap of faith and pursue her dream of becoming a wedding planner. She started her own business, Love Out Loud Events, and soon after quit her nonprofit job.

Like any new business owner, it took Brittani time to build a clientele. Months went by without her booking a client. Then, it finally happened. Brittani booked her first three weddings earlier this year.

Then, the coronavirus happened.

Two of the weddings were postponed. There’s not much she can do except wait until it’s safe for people to gather again.

“I’m floundering. We’re all floundering,” the Palm Bay resident said.

Brittani summarized the feeling we all share as we watch ourselves and loved ones struggle in an economy that has taken a fast, deep dive since the spread of COVID-19 forced the world to stop.

The coronavirus’ economic impacts have hit us like a collective lighting strike sparing almost no one: working class, white collar, start-up founder, worker bee or entrepreneur. What seemed to be affecting only retail and service workers in the beginning reached across social classes and income brackets with unthinkable speed. A record 6.6 million Americans filed jobless claims in the week ending March 28.

That impact is felt by Mary Kay sales director Pamela Gard Castellana of Melbourne, who over the years has driven the company’s famous pink cars that reward top-performing consultants. The company’s sales model is largely based on face-to-face interaction and Pamela’s personal sales have declined by about 75%. She gets commission from her own sales and those of the 85 people in her sales force.

The impact is felt by Lynn McCarville, a substitute teacher at Viera Charter School. She used to teach four to five times a week. With schools out until at least early May, she’s not getting paid. She also has an at-home business selling essential oils and said she’s doing OK for now.

The concept of financial security has become elusive practically overnight. As I write this, I am ready to take a week of unpaid furlough, a measure by Gannett, the company that owns the USA TODAY Network, to cut costs and hopefully save jobs.

The notion that we’re all in this together is true. To a certain extent.

Some are taking a harder hit and their ability to survive will depend on how long they can go without a steady income — and how long it will take for them to get help.

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