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Coronavirus aid programs are expiring and the workforce may take a big hit

A Texas A&M Bush School professor says nearly 90 million people may be affected by this act. Without more support, could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The United States started going into quarantine in March. The government enacted programs to make this transition easier during the pandemic and offer financial assistance to those struggling.

The Families First Coronavirus Act ends on December 31, 2020 and experts said 90 million people could be affected.

“It required employers to provide paid sick leave, [that] was one of the major pieces of it, and it was two weeks at full pay and up to 12 weeks at two-thirds pay," said Justin Bullock. Bullock is an assistant professor with the Texas A&M Bush School.

Professor Bullock said without more support going into 2021, it could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases. 

“If you have to support your family and you get a cough, you know if you are sick and you have the coronavirus, you’re not going to get paid and you’re not going to go to work," Bullock said. "What is everyone's incentive in that situation [is] to do this to provide for their family. So you’ll imagine, not only are we talking about lost ability for people to take time off and take care of their children and lots of school children are being sent home, but we’re also talking about making the pandemic worse by making people choose between whether to work sick or stay home and not be able to feed them."

As the holiday season continues, Professor Bullock said the pandemic is far from over and that puts more of a financial strain on families.

“It looks like a nightmare. This is really a disaster waiting. We haven’t even seen the worst of the pandemic yet. So it made sense to protect people when it wasn’t as bad as it’s about to be, I don’t see any kind of rational logical arguments for not extending some significant unemployment insurance benefits and some significant paid leave benefits," said Bullock. "Honestly we need a whole comprehensive package to support local to support healthcare care workers."

He added that he is optimistic the government will be able to find a temporary solution before the vaccine is released.