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New survey shows families struggling with loss of income due to COVID, flu, RSV

Crystal Graham
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A nonprofit family advocacy group released a member survey about the “tripledemic” of COVID, flu, and RSV, and how illness in their families has had outsized negative effects on their income this year.

ParentsTogether Action’s survey found that parents cited vast challenges as cuts were made in benefits and pandemic related assistance expired, amidst rising costs and inflation and legislators threatening to cut more federal food assistance amidst debt ceiling talks.

The survey found that 61 percent of respondents said they had experienced more illness this year than the year before, and 56 percent said they experienced more illness than two years before, which was during the peak of COVID.

  • 74 percent of respondents said they needed to miss work to care for themselves or a sick family member

Children were missing lots of school or daycare with:

  • 29 percent of respondents said their kid(s) had to miss 1-5 days of school or daycare
  • 24 percent said their kids had to miss 6-10 days
  • 28 percent said their kids had to miss 11+ days

The survey found that lack of paid sick leave to care for themselves or an ill family member has put a particular strain on families. Less than one in five respondents reported having paid leave for all of the time needed.

  • 40 percent said they needed to take unpaid leave
  • 11 percent said they needed to leave their job or were fired because of the time they took off

This lack of paid leave resulted in a loss of income that put considerable strain on families across the country.

  • 64 percent of respondents reported that lost income this year due to illness of themselves or their children made it harder for their families to make ends meet.

Among them:

  • 38 percent of respondents lost more than $1,000 worth of income
  • 8 percent of respondents reported they lost more than $5,000 in income

As a result of the loss of income:

  • 44 percent reported having to cut back on non-essential expenses (extracurriculars, vacations or meals out)
  • 30 percent had to dip into their savings in order to get by)
  • 28 percent were unable to pay for other essential items (gas, clothes, diapers, formula, period supplies)
  • 23 percent were unable to afford enough food

“Three years after the global pandemic hit, families across the United States have been abandoned as they navigate illness in their families while trying to make ends meet and provide for their children. For millions of parents, lack of paid leave has resulted in losses in income that push their family further into financial crisis,” said Ailen Arreaza, Executive Director of ParentsTogether Action. “It’s long past time that politicians who claim to want to help families get serious about passing legislation to guarantee paid leave for all. As this winter proved, American families can’t wait any longer.”

See full results of the survey online.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.