Possible return of COVID-19 restrictions could impact children, working families the most

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- How much would you dread the return of restrictions if COVID-19 infections continue to build? The impact could once again impact businesses, your job and even education. Kids and working families have the most to worry about.

We saw quickly how California's lockdown brought the economy to a grinding halt. Stores and restaurants closed. Jobs were wiped, too. Could a repeat be in the works if the looming wave of Delta variant infections continues to build?

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"I think that this would possibly be the nail in the coffin for many of them," said Patrick Kallerman, research director at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute. He's hoping a push to boost vaccinations will help.

However, another economic slowdown is threatening millions of struggling families. A new study by United Ways of California claims one in three families are unable to meet basic needs. That includes 1.7 million Latino households and 1 million White households.

"When we look at an equity lens, when we look at those who are most on the margins, I fear they will be most impacted by an economic downturn from any sort of further changes to how we operate," said Ahmad Thomas, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

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Even well-off families could struggle to find toilet paper and other goods if hoarding resurfaces or supply chains are disrupted.

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"The people that are in charge have to really talk to the community," said Jamie Kearns, a Vallejo, California, math teacher for 20 years. "We can't make these decisions without really going to the people, and so I think that communication is a real big missing piece."

Kearns is also a mother of three who has had her own challenges trying to buy a home and keep up with mortgage payments on a teacher's salary. Her husband is an electrician. She's worried for her students and a new round of restrictions that could bring back distancing learning and leave some students behind.

"We all have good heads on our shoulders, but it's going to take all of us to think outside the box and figure this out for the kids and for ourselves because we deserve it," she said.

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While there's dread looming on the horizon, business leaders are focused on this.

"We want to stay open," said the Leadership Group's Thomas.

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