WASHINGTON — After President Donald Trump put the brakes on a bipartisan federal stimulus bill this week, its fate could be decided this week.
As negotiations continue between Congress and the White House, one thing is certain: this has been a long, tough year for businesses and their employees. The financial impact of COVID-19 spanned the country and stretched across almost all of 2020.
Ben Hampton, a Georgia barbeque restaurant owner, said in May he was operating at a loss.
"We're just making enough to keep our lights on and, you know, keep our four employees employed," said the Satterfield's BBQ owner.
Around the same time, Audrey Perry, a furloughed coffee shop employee, said she was making ends meet with unemployment benefits enhanced by the first federal stimulus bill.
But the uncertainty of what comes next had her worried.
"How long is this gonna go on?" she asked. "Nobody has any answers and it's just, no one knows and I'm still not working."
Months later, many are still experiencing those same anxieties all across the country.
In San Francisco, struggling Chinatown businesses are pleading with the city for help.
"We've got a lot of good community leaders who are going to reach out to the mayor and not let her forget we're here," said Betty Louie of the Chinatown Merchants Association.
In the D.C. region, it's more of the same. Many bars and restaurants like Franklins Brewery are fighting to keep their doors open.
"I like to say after 28 years, we're a startup," said owner Mike Franklin. "So we're a startup with a burn rate, and can we hold out losing money month over month until things change?"
Regardless of what happens with the possible second stimulus, businesses said there are things you can do right now to help them survive.
The biggest? Just show up. Whether it's online or, where it's safe to do so, in person, businesses said even just a little bit of support goes a long way.