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Federal weekly $600 unemployment lifeline at stake for millions

Millions of Floridians depend on the weekly $600 unemployment benefits from the federal government. Robert Kantor of Punta Gorda is one among them.

Kantor is considered high-risk for contracting the coronavirus.

“I am 70 years old. I had lung cancer nine years ago. I have one and a half lungs,” Kantor said.

At the advice of his doctor, Kantor stopped driving cars for a ride-share service, a job he says brought in $700 to $800 a week.

“I miss the interaction,” Kantor said. “I’ve been basically locked in my house since March 16.”

Kantor said he’s applying for work-from-home jobs, but that hasn’t been panning out.

“I don’t get replies,” Kantor said. “I put in 40 or 50 different applications, haven’t gotten one reply.”

So, he depends on the $600 a week.

“I would probably end up in foreclosure if I didn’t have it, or choose between food and medication,” Kantor said.

Shelton Weeks, the department chair of Economics & Finance at FGCU, says he thinks the probability is high we’ll have benefits of some sort extended.

“We’ve seen the government act very quickly to try to respond to situations throughout this crisis, and I would not expect this to be any different,” Weeks said.

While Weeks is optimistic something will be extended by Friday, tighter guidelines are anyone’s guess.

If no deal is reached, Kantor said he’s faced with a big decision.

“I’m going to put my house up for sale, and I have a 97-year-old mother in West Palm Beach that I may end up moving in with,” Kantor said.

Reporter:Allison Gormly
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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