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Coronavirus concerns leave unemployed with a lot of uncertainty

Central Iowa businesses are trying to keep as busy as possible to get through this COVID-19 rough patch.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Closed business signs line up and down the streets of downtown Des Moines depicts a very real story about how the coronavirus is affecting thousands in Iowa and millions around the country.

There's no end in sight for when income will be steaming back in and that's causing fear for many.

Elizabeth Pfaff, who's day job is a massage therapist, is now spending her days at home trying to figure out what's next.

"I've been stressed out thinking how am i going to pay my bills? am i going to be able to pay rent next month? am i going to have to move back home? i have no idea what's going to be unfolding as this all progresses," Pfaff said. 

She is one of more than 40,000 that have applied for unemployment in Iowa amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Since she moved to Des Moines in early February from Milwaukee Wisconsin, Pfaff has been having to go back and forth between the two states to figure out where she'll be getting benefits from. 

That has not been easy.

"Ive had to be in contact with both Iowa and Wisconsin asking who I'm supposed to be filing a claim with. Today I was on hold for 2 and a half hours, I have called over 600 times trying to get through. Calls drop, calls don't connect. I'm told iI'm not able to be put on hold that they're at capacity for holding. and when I trying calling Iowa, the call just drops," Pfaff said. 

While Pfaff and thousands of others continue to file for unemployment, West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce has launched a brand new 'virtual' mall. 

This hopes of keep business flowing and avoid having to permanently shut their doors so employees like Pfaff will have a place to come back and work, once this passes.

"That's exactly right. So we're providing these new ecommerce sites so they can set up their own mini e-commerce sites, so it's a great way to support them and help build their revenue during this time," West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce incoming president & CEO Katherine Harrington. 

But as for when the majority of employees can go back to work, that's what remains unknown.

"And that's the unfortunate part. Is that we have no idea what's going to happen next," Pfaff  said. 

They all hope it's sooner rather than later.

Checkout the shop central Iowa website here

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